Follow your dreams- the biggest career challenge you will ever face.
As a 20-something recent graduate and a millennial, following your dreams is one of the biggest catchphrases you hear. The media is filled with success stories of ‘Top 10 Startups’ or ‘India’s Next Big Thing’ or ‘People Under 25 To Watch Out For’. Of late there have been articles coming out by the bunches about fail-proofing your climb to success and the top qualities in la la la. Success is everywhere and so is failure. The presence of this sort of an environment has begun to put on us a pressure to be successful. We are Gen Z- we chase our dreams, live for what we believe in and accelerate result-driven growth. Except. Except if you think about it, for all the propaganda around us revolving around our passions, we are really slow to catch on.
What no one will tell you about living the way you want to is that it is a real and constant struggle. No number of Auditya Venkateshs or Varun Agarwals will drive home that point unless you experience it for yourself. And when you do, if you ever do, you will find yourself so unprepared that it will make your hands go cold. If you are still reading this, you need to know now that it is not easy.
It is not easy to not do what everyone else is doing because they’ve been told to. You will question yourself so many times that you’ll lose count. You’ll think of your parents, your future, your social standing, the goals of your peers- all of which may give you good reason to quit right away. Every sign of a stable job you don’t want to do will remind you of why you should take it. And don’t get me started on what a devil a fat paycheck can be.
CATs and GMATs become Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. The bigger the name of the company you are placed in, the steeper your future success curve becomes. “The exposure is good, resume pe achcha dikhega.” And all the while, the greater forces look at us and quietly chuckle to themselves.
Abhi sachi baat suno tum. If you’ve got a burning passion that you think you can’t afford to follow, you may not know it but that passion won’t rest until you do just what it wants. If you don’t have that Master Plan of Life that for some reason everyone else does, it’s okay. Master plans change anyway and if they don’t you’ll get sick of them. Just follow your heart (c’est cliché mais c’est vrai). Create value where you want to and success will chase after you. Ask yourself this- what do you really want to do? If you don’t have the answer, keep trying things out until you find it. If you do have it, you know what to do.
JRR Tolkien wrote in the Lord of the Rings (the movie adaptations of which, by the way, I am nuts about), “Not all those who wander are lost”. I really can’t put it any better way nor can I explain it differently. What this quote is to me, to you would be “No pain, no gain”, or some thought of your own, or even “All is well” for the daring and courageous. Don’t let go of that without a fight. Discover who you are and what your dreams are. Then, just go for it. Make no mistake, it will be a gamble. But it is a gamble where you have the upperhand and that upperhand is your zeal to be great at doing what you love. Study, network, put in long hours but pull out all the stops. Yes, failure is a real and palpable consequence. But take it from me, the only thing you’ll regret more than failing is never having tried at all.