Although I am only halfway through my third year in college, already the prospect of life after school looms large. Not going to school was never an option for me. It was the “right” thing to do, as dictated by my family and society. Not to say I’m not glad I came; I love it here and I have learned so much. But when people ask what I want to do after school, I never know how to answer.
I know I am not alone in this sentiment – many kids before me have faced the same dilema, and many more will do so. But what really gets me is that I do know what I would like to do after school. I would love to explore the outdoors with my camera. That simple. I want to be the photographer on the expeditions that you read about in Outside Magazine. But then I think about all the things I do that require money, like developing my film. And eating. And the clothes I wear on hikes. And so I push those dreams to the back of my mind, telling myself that I’ll get a normal job first, to get the money, and then I’ll be able to follow my goals. But I don’t quite convince myself.
My dad studied film in college. He wanted to make movies and live in Paris. Then real life intervened. He accepted a job in the jewelry business because it was there. Over 20 years later and he hasn’t left. But he always tells me that the most important thing in life is to do what I love. My dad hates his job.
I’m afraid to go for it. I’m afraid of failing, of risking it all and losing. But more and more I realize that’s what it takes. I’ve included a video below by philosopher Alan Watts. He must love what he does, because he very beautifully grinds down this issue to a very simple idea:
“If you say that getting the money is the important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is stupid.”
Watts asks us what we would do if money was no object, and urges us to follow what we love. Most importantly he points out that if you do what you love, you will become a master, and once you are a master of your craft, whether it is skiing or painting or writing poetry, you will be able to obtain a decent fee for your work. And he’s right. All it takes is the nerve to go for it and not give up when the goal seems impossibly out of reach. Corny, but true. Anyway, he says it much better than me, so check the video below and leave your comments.