What If Your Passion Doesn't Align With Your Career?


"Auntie, I am not sure if I want to be a nurse anymore. I want to major in Business Management when I go to college, and work in the fashion industry."

"Sweetie, I changed my mind at least three times before I finished college. You don't have to make up your mind now."


"Yes. And why are you putting yourself in a box. You don't have to define yourself by your career. If you want to pursue nursing, go ahead pursue nursing. That doesn't mean you can't dabble into fashion."

What do you want to be when you grow up?

How inhibiting this question is to the developing mind? As children we are asked to identify a chosen career. To figure out what we are passionate about in life and follow it wholeheartedly. That we ought to have a clear and direct path towards the pursuit of a sole career. And that this career will set the course of our entire life.

With only two years  left of high school my niece has been battling with the growing pressure of going to college. Almost every time we speak she changes her mind about what her chosen career path should be. She wants to make sure she has it all together. Many of us can remember when deciding on a major (or whether we should go to college) was the most important life changing decision we thought we will ever have to make. So of course, my niece wants to make sure she is making the right decision. A decision she feels will effect her entire life. With that amount of pressure it's no wonder why many of us have struggled, and are probably still struggling to figure out the direction of our lives. And if we're not busy trying to figure out our calling in life, it took us some time to get there.

What if your passion doesn't directly align with a specific career? Or you're not exactly sure what your passionate about? You are now all grown up but, you are still having trouble figuring out exactly in what direction your life is heading.

The problem with asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", is by the time we are making a decision on what path to follow we often starve our creativity or inhibit our curiosity in pursuit of a lucrative career. And some of us find ourselves lost because we aren't able to perfectly fit our interests, passions, or abilities into any one box. Don't get me wrong there's no problem with pursuing a profitable career or if what you're passionate about happens to be within a lucrative field. But for some of us the path to our careers isn't so clear.

Follow your curiosity.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

The thing is this, we are multidimensional beings with various talents, gifts, skills and abilities. All of which doesn't have to be summed up by a chosen career or clearly defined path. Neither do our occupations need to directly align with all our passions. And to be honest we don't have to have an intense passion behind whatever career path we choose. There are multiple ways to keep our creative spirits alive or to excite your curiosity.

The truth is for many of us, our gifts do not fit into a clearly defined box. Our lives are not made to fit within a predetermined mold. Take for instance a friend of mine who is a gifted artist but has found a career comfortably as a preschool teacher. A career in which she embeds her creative talents in. She still engages in the art world, travels and has hosted her own exhibit. You don't have to take my word for it, here are a few other notable examples: 

  • Ken Jeong is best known as an actor. Many of us watched and enjoyed The Hangover movie series and, sure he gave us a ton of laughs. Well, before he got into acting he was a licensed physician. He also did comedy on the side. Jeong now writes and produces his own show.

  • Maya Angelou who we all know for her amazing work as a writer started out as a streetcar conductor. She later moved into dancing and had a successful career as an actress. She didn't even begin to focus on writing until later on in adulthood. Her first book was published at the age of 41.

  • Brian Harold May the lead guitarist for the famous rock band Queen holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and has been active within the science community. He has also become involved in animal activism.

  • Mayim Bialik whom we were first introduced to through her hit 90's tv show Blossom and became reacquainted with on The Big Bang Theory is also a neuroscientist. She has also published a couple of books.

  • Sir Aurthor Conan Doyle was a physician. He wrote The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Do what incites you. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with being in a career you may not be entirely passionate about while you support your side hustle. There's nothing wrong with shifting gears and changing your career. Or maybe you're like a humming bird spending moments at a time honing in on your craft and once you've mastered it you move on to the next thing. There's nothing wrong with going wherever your curiosity leads you.

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Photo Taken By: Amanda Bermudez