Thoughts While Hiking

I had a super interesting conversation with my partner yesterday.

We were on a hike with a Meet Up group. As we’re both people of the internet (read: we met online), we had both had experience with Meet Up. None particularly successful. But with many of his friends’ relocating and most of my friends not being from Portland, we decided to attempt this again.

We went on a fun hike with a mostly older (>40) crowd. At some point he was asked what he does and that prompted some interesting conversation. Most people there felt that they had spent most of their lives chugging along and were using their older years to really do what they love. This, I thought, is exactly what I’m trying to avoid. I don’t want to spend half my life doing what I think I have to do but hating every minute of it. I have met enough people in my life that pursued what they loved doing and felt themselves much more successful, regardless of income and material goods.

As he continued speaking with one woman on our return trip, I picked up the pace and went off on my own. I wasn’t really adding to their conversation, and I love using time in nature to think.

I realized the greatest difference between me and many people whose lives (especially their work-lives) I admire is that I made my decisions based on what career paths and monetary income I could expect, they did not. This most blatantly happened in college. A year and a half into my education, I realized engineering was not what I thought it would be. It was a lot more theoretical than, not as hands on as, I had expected. The only other thing that was really interesting me at the time was linguistics. When faced with the decision to drop my engineering degree and pursue linguistics instead my reaction was “well what could I possibly do with a linguistics degree.” So I stuck it out with engineering and here I am today.

The people I admire are people who pursued a degree they felt passionate about without any real idea of what possible job it could bring them. I know one man who studied literature never imagining he would become a web content manager. My partner studied philosophy and film theory, got a masters in critical thinking, and finds himself working in television. I follow a blogger who got a degree in percussion and is currently making her money through a cooking blog/cook book.

These are people who pursued their passions and ended up in places they probably didn’t imagine when they first went to school. I tried to plan years in advance only to find myself hugely dissatisfied with where I am.

So when faced with such decisions, I really encourage you to choose passion. The more passionate you are about something, the harder you’ll work at it, the most success you will probably find. And remember that success doesn’t always mean income or material property. Be more open minded. Pursue that which you love.

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