I had the pleasure this week of going out to El Centro, California, for the Imperial Valley Higher Education Week. They do an amazing job of setting up the opportunity for about 30 college representatives to visit a couple handfuls of schools and thousands of students over a few days.
While at Southwest High School, a student approached my table and sort of just looked around. I asked him a few questions like “What schools are you looking at?” and “What are you passionate about?” To the latter, he replied, “I don’t know.”
Me “If you don’t mind me asking, what are you planning on majoring in?”
Student “I’m not sure, yet.”
“How are you going to decide?”
“I don’t really know. I guess I’ll just roll the dice and see what happens.”
My heart totally sank and my eyes got wide. “Do you mind if I give you a tip?” “Well, I guess not. Go ahead.”
“When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the Hospitality Industry. I made it my career and I loved it. Until I got exhausted and realized I lost my passion for it because I did nothing but work. But, you see, I pigeon-holed myself into this Industry. It was the only experience I had. No one out of the industry would hire me because it’s all I knew and the only place I felt I could add value in the world. I became like you, not sure what my future would hold, not even sure what I was passionate about anymore.
I began writing – every night or every other night or once a week. One thing, on a piece of paper near my bed. I would write down whatever happened that day or week that inspired me the most, or that I was the most proud of. After several months, I looked at the list and not surprisingly, nothing on it had to do with food or drinks.
Instead, it said things like ‘was able to promote the line cook to kitchen manager, thus allowing him to earn more money, better support his family, and be more productive at work because he was happier.’ Everything on the list had to do with people – personal development, building people up, helping them grow, connecting them to each other.
It was then that I KNEW that whatever job I took or whatever course I went in my career, I had to be in a position where I was helping people”
His reply was very sweet, something like “that is some pretty interesting advice you gave me. I may have to look into that.” Such a nice young student, who is obviously very bright and does care about his future, but simply because he doesn’t know how to figure out his passion, was willing to roll the dice.
What about you? Do you know what you are passionate about… really? If you don’t, I encourage you to try to find it by really doing some self-exploration and figuring out what drives you. What would you do if you were tired, angry, fed up? What do you value? What is the most important thing to you in your life? Not everyone wants to change the world. There is no “stupid” passion. Maybe you love marshmallows and you’re Jewish. So you find a way to make kosher s’mores and share them with the world. Or maybe you’re obsessed with your keychain collection that’s been growing since 1995 – find the other people in the world who are obsessed with keychains and start a video blog. Do whatever you are excited about provided you’re excitement is passion (see below.). All that matters is that it’s real and you aren’t leaving your future to chance.
If you can’t decide what to do with your career or even what to major in in college, I urge you to spend some time in thought. Write things down. Just don’t leave it up to the dice.