Children’s author Maurice Sendak said, “I wish you all good things. Live your life, live your life, live your life.” And that is the thought that keeps running through my head, mantra-like, since my son confided his plans (dreams) for the future.
He has lived in Washington, D.C. since the fateful day that he tucked his newly minted college diploma in his backpack and set off across the country on his motorcycle to accept an internship. He has toiled at various non-profits, scraping by for the past seven years, loving every minute.
From a very young age, he has been drawn to photography. He loves to tell a story through his lens. He has a tender, idealistic soul and it’s obvious in his work. He is also an adventurer, captivated by the human condition. This has taken him to the Honduran coup, the Libyan and Egyptian revolutions, and to earthquake-damaged Haiti.
Last week, he told me that he is planning to quit his great job, use the money he has saved and follow his dream to be a full-time photojournalist. He’s thought it out, he has good contacts, and he is giving himself a year to see if he can make it. No home base in London or Paris, he is looking at northern Africa or Istanbul Р to be closer to “things as they happen.”
Call me crazy or irresponsible or even a bad mother, but I told him to go. He is unencumbered relationship-wise. He has proved himself deliberate and thoughtful. He is not fool-hardy or rash. The only reason I can think that he shouldn’t do this is because I will worry Р not a very good reason not to follow his dream, and I told him this.
Helen Keller stated, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And to this I add “Live your life.”
After reading what my wife said to her son, I offer you the advice I gave my son when he told me eight years ago that he was leaving his full-time job in Utah to accept a poorly-paid position with a start-up company in Los Angeles.
“Don’t act rashly,” I told him. “Just because you’re frustrated with your job, you don’t pick up and quit without knowing that the new job is significantly better. I don’t think you have really thought this through; you are better off staying put until something stable comes around.”
He wasn’t happy with me, but he stuck it out for another year before accepting a solid offer from a respected public relations firm.
I am not afraid of risk, but I do believe today’s younger generation is susceptible to the siren song or “pie in the sky” dreams. Young people expect to be happy in their job, and if a cross word from a superior or co-worker disturbs their happy cocoon, they are ready to quit.
The reality is work is not always pleasurable; that’s why they call it “work”, not recess. While everyone should always have their ears open for a chance of bettering themselves, the decision to leave one’s job or pursue a different career should not be made in haste.
All of us would like to toss our current jobs in order to be best-selling authors, rock stars, A-list actors, or acclaimed athletes featured in the pages of People magazine, and we would all enjoy being in the position of earning enough wealth to retire at age 50.
But that’s not realistic. Neither is it realistic to expect enjoying your job 100 percent of the time. Pursue your dreams, but don’t throw caution to the wind unless you are truly miserable.