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Growing up, a lot of us were always told that we should follow our dreams and do whatever it is that we’re passionate about, but a lot of that changes once we begin our journey into adulthood. It then switches to being told that we need to get whatever job is paying well at the moment, and sticking with it because there are other people fighting for a similar career and it’s better than a minimum wage job. This is where the cycle of “Money Over Happiness” starts, and why there are so many men and women who are miserable at jobs that they view as mediocre or just plain shitty.

When I was little, I didn’t know what it was that I wanted to do with my life. I went through various phases where I chose random careers that sounded exciting and that I thought I truly wanted to pursue. I thought I wanted to be a neurosurgeon to a wrestler in the WWE to a big name Hollywood actor. As implied, I was a kid who had big dreams.

Let’s jump forward a little to high school – a crucial point in everyone’s life for various reasons. High school puts a lot of pressure on you in the sense that you’re consistently told that you have to know what you want to do with seemingly, the rest of your life career wise. We’re almost conditioned to think that we have to go to college to get a degree and end up working for someone else’s company, instead of consistently being encouraged to turn our passion into profit. Now, I’m not knocking college – I tried it out, decided that it wasn’t worth putting myself in thousands and thousands of dollars worth of debt, but still had some positive things to take away from the experience. What I am saying is that society as a whole (and school systems, obviously) should focus more on pinpointing students’ passions and offering programs/counseling who can help them turn their ideas into successful brands.

Now, even in high school and college, I wasn’t completely sure of what I wanted to do, which is understandable because we’re still teenagers when we’re finished with high school and enter universities. What I did know was that I wanted to do something in the music, media, and/or communications field. Being as though that is a goal for a lot of people, my parents weren’t having it and felt like I needed to pursue a more “practical” career path. I tried going to college for Criminology and found out that it wasn’t for me and that career opportunities aren’t necessarily the best, so I essentially dropped out and began trying different positions in different industries.

Fast forward to my life now – I work in the corporate world and have a job that people with degrees are fighting to get, and yet I still become overwhelmed with a sense of dread the second I step foot into my job’s offices. Monday – Friday from 8:30am to 5pm is my own personal version of Hell. My passion for music, media, and communications have taken a backseat in recent months, as you can tell by my lack of posting recently, and I’m noticeably less social and a lot less happy. While I’ve accomplished things in my respective industry, I’m still mentally in a place where I’m not happy because of my mediocre day job.

It may seem like complaining because I’m employed, have benefits, and there are people twice my age wishing they had a job with my salary, but honestly, it’s something that needs to be discussed. If I have to come off as “spoiled” or “entitled” to start a discussion about placing your dreams on a pedestal as opposed to making someone else millions for the rest of your life, then I’ll gladly do that. Continuing this cycle of encouraging your children and peers to obtain and retain mediocre careers for the sake of having a steady paycheck and ignoring their happiness and mental health isn’t a good social pattern to continue promoting.

At the end of the day, we only have one life to live and in this life, I feel like risks should be taken if it involves you having a shot at a happy work and home life. Staying at a job for a paycheck or just because some people don’t believe in the vision that you know you can accomplish is no way to live life, especially if you’re in your early 20’s like I am. Realize that there are always going to be people who say that leaving a job that is making you depressed to pursue what your dreams are is a stupid move, but they don’t matter. They aren’t the one who has to wake up everyday knowing that it’ll be yet another day of regret, wonder, and unhappiness – you have to deal with it. In saying that, you always have to put your own happiness first. Now, I’m not saying to just walk into work tomorrow and resign without giving proper notice. What you should do is come up with a plan, even if it means living a little less comfortably than you’re living currently. Set yourself up with a part time gig, make connections in your industry, and work on pursuing your dreams. Throw fear and doubt to side and get ready to embark on your own personal journey to greatness.

In saying that, I’m still stuck in limbo myself, but I feel like it’s time to take some of my own advice and take that “leap of faith” so to speak. While I make a lot more money than I’ve made at any previous job, I know that I can’t last another year of being unhappy, unfulfilled, and just plain depressed for some money. It’s time to take matters into my own hands and deal with the complications that may come my way while pushing my uncertainty to the side and diving into the ocean of dreams and fulfillment head first.