Today I showed this video to my Seniors as a writing prompt: What If Money Were No Object? It caused me to reflect on what leads us to our passions.
My sister in law, a successful businesswoman, told me how she found her career path. Her mother told her to find the profession that pays the highest and study that, so that is what she did. I admire the clean simplicity and clarity of the trajectory. Mine path was a bit more crooked.
My first year at college I was not fully committed. I was a horrible student my last two years of high school, I was going to Wayne State University almost purely by chance (that is another story), and I just started by taking classes that seemed interesting to me.
I remember the semester I took a poetry class. My professor was a short, pale man who looked exactly like my imagination English professor. He even wore jackets with pockets at the elbows. The class was in the evening and in the bright, white classroom that shined out into the city, that quiet man would read us poems, and it thrilled me. I sometimes almost cried, or my heart would race. Even more so, my brain woke up, and I felt like I understood a secret, magical language. I almost couldn't believe that I got to do this for college credit. I loved writing my papers about Dylan Thomas and e.e. cummings. I treasured my text book (which I still have), and I approached the rest of my college the same way. I just sought out what I loved, and then I found a lot more that I loved, including history, linguistics and French.
Teaching was not a passion or a calling for a long time. I just kept doing the next thing I loved until I found myself in this job. I don't even think I loved teaching at first. Years 1-3 were hard, and I often wondered if I made a mistake. I told myself I would do it for 5-7 years then do something else.
16 years later, here I am still in the classroom. Even now, not every moment brings me to chills or feels like a privilege, but I know that teaching is my passion, the thing I would do if money were no object. I think the idea that our passion is going to come to us ready made when we are 18, 19, 20 and be unwaveringly inspirational is paralyzing and unrealistic. Maybe it works that way for some people. But for people like me it takes time and faith to find the passion that is better than money.