What did you want to be when you were a child? How different is it compared to what job you have now? How many of us wake up one day and realize this is not want I wanted to do with my life, I’m living the wrong life. How many of us choose a career path because-
1) It’s a safe career path and you will never be without work
2) It will earn a decent income
3) It is a career suggested and respected by your parents and family
4) It is a family tradition expected to be upheld
5)) You clueless about what you want to do and hey everyone says you would be good at this career
6) Purely by accident. It was the first job offer to come along
7) You just need to work, any work to pay for your life and responsibilities
Looking back, I think I choose a social work career path because of many of those above reasons. I thought it was a safe secure job in that there would always be a need for social workers as long as people keep on having problems. My mum thought I would do well in this area because I’ve always been an observer of people and a listener. Lastly I knew social workers worked with all ages and I had an interest in aged care as I loved all the time I shared with my grandparents and listening to their stories.
These were all practical and sensible reasons to become a social worker however can I honestly say I’ve ever had a passion for social work? Do I like to talk about social work when I’m not at work? Do I wake up in the morning excited for the work day and all its challenges? Would I do social work even if I wasn’t paid? Truthfully, I can’t say yes to any of these questions. I do have a great bunch of colleagues at the hospital, the work can be rewarding and make a difference to others, I enjoy most days but social work doesn’t get me fired up inside. It never has.
Then at the age of 33, I had an epiphany. I was thinking about all the people I admire and their life work like Shaun Tan and May Gibbs and it suddenly came to me. I want to be an illustrator. I think I have always known this but a whole lot of things got in the way probably the biggest being my belief that all artists are poor. How often do you really question what you believe and where your beliefs have come from. It only dawned on me recently that there is a difference between a belief and a fact and that we have a tendency to disregard incoming information that doesn’t support our beliefs. I know my parents believe all artists are poor but do I really believe this? Yes, there are artists that are poor but there are also numerous artists who are able to support themselves financially and their families. If the core of an artist is all about creativity, flare and coming up with ideas why can’t these same skills be utilised by any artist to make a financially secure business? Why do people have to choose between money and following their passions. Why can’t they have both?
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” CS Lewis
“While there is a cost to every dream, there is a greater cost to not pursuing them- that cost is lifetime of regret”
“My biggest fear is doing the same thing ten years from now.” George Clooney
So I’m going for it! I’m starting on the road of pursuing my life work dream of becoming an illustrator. If you have read “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek , I’ve even worked out why I am so passionate about creating art. I want to create art that is meaningful, honest and says something about life, all its paradoxes and both small and big questions. I believe so much that art is inspiring, creating art everyday can be therapeutic for the soul and I would love my passion for creativity to be contagious.
I would love to hear from you. Are you caught up in the rat race of life and want to escape to pursue work that has meaning to you? What work would you love to do even if you weren’t paid or afraid? Do you believe you can have both- money and follow your passion?