Misled by a teacher's seemingly innocuous but tragically false advice, the young man wasted 5 years of his life. While others his age had jobs and established relationships, he had a recently kicked drug habit and an uncertain future. What happened?
In high school his favorite teacher had encouraged his students to pursue their dreams and passions with the words, "Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life!" The advice seemed sound and its message was appealing, so the young man purposed to find a joy infused career. If he had thought harder and gotten wiser counsel he might have seen the lies implied by his teacher's exhortations.
Implied Lie 1- Difficult work is to be avoided. There are many well paying careers that are not particularly fun and fulfilling, as illustrated by every episode of the television show "Dirty Jobs". Someone has to do these jobs, and those who can discipline themselves to perform them well will find a good measure of success.
Implied Lie 2- Happiness comes from outside of us. If we rely on our outside circumstances for our joy we will be unhappy people. It is possible to work a seemingly boring and repetitive job and be happy. In my 7 years in the grocery business I worked alongside many men who took pride in stocking shelves. There is nothing exciting about putting boxes and cans on shelves but these men worked hard at it, were good at it, and felt good about themselves at the end of a productive shift. Their happiness came from within.
Implied Lie 3- Everyone's dreams can come true. What a crock this is. People in affluent cultures lose sight of the fact that not everyone succeeds. For many life is one struggle after another. Implying that everyone has the ability to love their job ignores reality.
Implied Lie 4- Pursuing a dream makes you happy. Even for those who do something they love, there is a good chance that the path to the goal required a lot of unpleasant work and sacrifice. I love being a doctor , but I definitely did NOT love biochemistry, neuroanatomy, organic chemistry and statistics. I did not particularly enjoy the 100 hour work weeks of residency training, and for many years private practice was a struggle as I learned the hard way how to deal with patient and employee personalities and the challenges of running a business. Although I love my job now, it was not always fun or easy.
Implied Lie 5- In your perfect job you will always be happy. Nobody loves everything about their job. Two words- rectal exams. To this I could add filling out disability forms, insurance company appeals and medication authorization requests, and giving babies shots. The advice I gave my son when he was 16 is still true today- If you can learn to work hard at something you don't enjoy, you will succeed where others don't.
This misguided student is a victim of a culture that encourages self-indulgence and self-centeredness, a culture filled with unhappy, unfulfilled young people who are engaged in a futile struggle to find a dream job and external fulfillment. Our young people deserve better. They deserve the truth.