Follow your passion, find your niche, enjoy your work...
Are we sending the wrong message to young people about work in today's society?
Regardless of where you are on the economic ladder chances are you are working hard to keep the status quo picturing the green grass on the other side of the hard work you do. With that in mind, how do you feel about the word WORK? For most of us work is the thing that we have to do when we would rather be doing something else. We teach it to our kids in school lessons, and misuse the term widely. GOT to go to WORK, HAVE to get a JOB, success takes HARD WORK. Most things that we HAVE to do that are HARD, are associated with the word WORK. I think we have been sending the wrong message to students and young people for far too long..
I was recently in a heated conversation with a group of people who, by their own right, could write circles around me. They were Ivy league College educated, a luxury I don't personally have, and since we had just met they were interested in the fact that I was a photographer. As we talked about how they make a living, and how I do as well the room came suddenly silent when I said with delight and enjoyment "At the end of the day our work is all we have".
Out of the quiet a voice said, "I don't think many people think like you." with a hint of sarcasm. I get it... the word work for most people, regardless education is exactly what we all grew up thinking about this ugly word, which is that somehow we aren't to think of work as something we do for enjoyment.
I am suggesting that if you are one of those people who thinks of work as something you don't want to do, that you either change your way of thinking about your job, or maybe even change your job. Why are we teaching students that they have to work hard and get a job, with all of it's negative connotations, when we could instead be teaching them that work is the most exciting parts of adult life?
How many college graduates do you know who have no idea what they want to do for a career? I know many people who have managed to graduate high school, and/or college that years later fall into mediocre jobs they hate simply because they never realized that work is supposed to be the thing that you wake with excitement for. It's a travesty by all accounts, but it happens to far too many people.
Second to taking care of your family, and spending quality time with your loved ones, work instead should be something that excites you and fills your soul. Your life's mission if you will, and if you can figure this out in your mindset work won't become the thing you regret spending a great deal of your time on. Instead it becomes your legacy, and something you were proud to have devoted your life to.
The Money Chase...
Work and money don't always balance out. Yet we teach students from a young age that getting a so called, good job, is the key to adult life. Why don't we instead teach them to follow their passions so that they actually enjoy what they spend the majority of their life doing? What good is money and misery? You can't count on the "good job" anyway. Pensions and retirement are mostly a thing of the past and like many, you may do everything right by the company you work for only to be laid off once the CEO bankrupts the company and sails away on their yacht. The "good job" has no more comfort of security than being an entrepreneur at the end of the day when you think about it.
When I was in high school I was already into photography. I even had a little company I was working on in which I was printing all of the color and black and white enlargements for local one hour photo-labs. Yet my high school counselor and other advisers were saying "why don't you consider something more realistic in your career plans?" Thank god I was stubborn! I knew that I wanted to be a photographer, and could picture it in my mind. Why would any parent, teacher, or advisor want to change that? You see, I am a victim of the problem I am writing about. I was lucky that my parents thought outside the box enough to foster this dream. In hindsight, I will say that my counselors were spot on in that art school makes little or no sense. You learn art by doing, and can learn art history by experiencing it. Even though I am in an art field, it would be money better spent studying business, as what good is being an artist if you don't know how to survive and/or succeed.
The Photographic Life...
Photography and video production is not an easy path to go down as a career. There are no roadmaps, there are numerous paths to choose from, and there are endless challenges. It includes hard work, long hours, the stress of paying the bills, keeping up, and coming up with fresh ideas is exhausting at times. It's not as glamorous as I pictured it in my youth, although it does have it's moments where I have to pinch myself to believe I am having such an incredible experience. But it's what I was meant to do, and I am lucky to have followed my heart. I wish for everyone to have the blessing of figuring out what they were meant to do. It's why I suggest following your passion, because when you do, you won't die with regret that you spent so much time on work.
I am writing this for all those young people out there because your teachers might not say it, and your parents might not be able to see it. Follow your passions, find your niche, and work hard at being the best at what you do. Enough money will follow if you are focused, but most of all you will wake each day excited about the work day in front of you. At the end of the day, our work is after all what we spend the majority of our time doing as an adult. So, you might as well make it your passion.
Photographs by Jennifer Maring
Text by Charles Maring
Principal Photographers Maring Visuals