making your own success

I have spent the better part of the past four years being told the two fields I desire to work in are unemployable, dwindling fields with not a lot of prosper. I’ve been told I will work for almost, and sometimes actually, nothing to gain the experience to maybe, hopefully, one day make a modest pay check to pursue work that I am passionate about.

I’ve wanted to make a career out of writing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I used to write all the time. Since we moved around so much, it was the easiest way to keep me entertained: pen, pencil, maybe a few markers. Born into a family of journalists, it seemed natural for me to pursue a degree in journalism. Going into university, I saw it as a winning combination that could appease my love for writing and insatiable curiosity about the world.

My interest in global affairs and international development stemmed from a few alternative spring break trips I participated in throughout my university career. On these trips,  I visited places where the culture, language and quality of life rocked my very understanding of the world, my understanding of privilege and just how much had been afforded to me.

These trips, my love for writing, these were all catalysts for me pursuing dreams in careers where mentors indicate there are few jobs and fewer opportunities. I believed them, I didn’t know better not to.

What I have learned, in my very short time working, is that there is a difference between finding opportunities and making them. 

If you want success, if you want to do work you love, you have to be ready to sacrifice: time, money, comfort, everything.

You have to be ready to move across the world, to work outside of the established 9-5 office hours, to put your heart, soul and energy into something that may not work out, but hell it’s worth the shot.

You have to be willing to volunteer, to make a name for yourself, to expand your network, to educate yourself not for a piece of paper, which you can wave around boasting higher education, but for your own betterment. Read books, research, learn from experts.

You have to relentlessly pursue opportunities that were never there to begin with, create your own work, develop a project, offer your services, whatever they are, to new organizations in hopes that as they build, you will become a fundamental part of their workforce.

Maybe, maybe pursuing a career that doesn’t produce a lofty pay check, or incredible benefits is naive, a statement of someone too young to know about the real world. Maybe it means I will spend a lot of my life moving homes and challenging my limits. What it also means though, is that every day I wake up enthralled with the work I am doing. It means that sometimes, on the very best of days, I would be willing to do work unpaid because the satisfaction it brings is my own definition of success, which is worth far more than a six-digit income.

You can’t wait for success, you’ve got to make your own.


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