Choose: High-paying job vs chasing your passion?

Juruh Gagarin

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Choose: High-paying job vs chasing your passion?
Would you stay at a high-paying job you didn't love? Would you chase your dreams even if your income isn't guaranteed?

It has been a year since I graduated from college and whenever I go out with my friends to catch up, we always debate on the dilemma of choosing a career according to one’s salary goals or following one’s passion.

“Choose passion and let’s see how you can make ends meet.” the team realist argues.

“Choose money and let’s see how unsatisfied and insignificant you’ll feel until you die,” the team idealist counters. 

Many of us were raised with a belief that we can be anything we want to be and fed with the idea that if we pursue our passion, money will follow. Most of us buy this mantra, but in real life, things are never as simple as they seem.

So when it is my turn to answer this question, I always weigh in with these points.

1. You might not be able to convert your passion into a source of income right away. 

If you can, that’s great, but not everyone is able to do this early on. It’s harsh, but, we need to accept that our bills don’t care if we are passionate or not. We cannot solely choose a career based solely on our personal interests without caring about the other factors – “Will this give me enough to finance my basic needs, my family, my goals and my future?” The list goes on and on.

One of the more irresponsible interpretations of “following your dreams” is the assumption that your happiness depends on it. Don’t cling to it. 

A lot has been said about quitting and never looking back in the pursuit of their passion. But, I think it’s not that bad if you can’t convert your passion into a profession. If it is not marketable right now then it can remain as a hobby, or one might continue to freelance, until it substantially becomes possible to earn from it.

2. A grain of salt 
Just because you are passionate about acting, doesn’t mean you have to go to Hollywood or Broadway right away. If we will examine it closely, passion is not all unicorns and rainbows. It requires sacrifice.

Just because you love something, doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it anymore. You need to practice really hard to develop your craft and practicing requires time, effort and money. You can have this powerful spirit, but you cannot disregard hard work. Focus on cultivating your skills.

3. But, life is too short and precious to be boring.
Still, I feel like I wasn’t born just to pay bills and then die. Working for money can be tiring and draining. People may look down at you because you’re not a CEO, but if you die unsatisfied tomorrow, their opinion won’t matter anyway. 

The word “passion” may be overused or misunderstood, but it won’t be irrelevant. The leap of faith might be risky, but at the end of the day, you’ll really never know if you don’t try.

4. Pursuing meaningful work is a reward in itself.
Some people don’t understand why young people like me get a part time job even the day job is enough. Others see this as just us working for more money, but, the truth is, our part-time job or freelance job is our escape from the mad race. Money isn’t all we’re after. We value the idea of mission and we want to be defined not by our position, but by what we love doing and that impact on the world.

So when I’m asked, money or passion? I wonder, “Why not both?” – 

Julie Ruth Gagarin, 21 years old. Advertising and Public Relations graduate of Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She now keeps a day job, co-founding a startup company, writing a blog for the twentysomethings and sipping coffee just to stay awake. But she says it’s all worth it.

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