A number of years ago now, someone told me that I shouldn’t do something because I will never make any money out of it.
At the age of fifteen, with a very impressionable mind and a terrible lack of self assurance, I listened to this advice. I will tell you before you click off this page, two years later I discovered that if you do something someone else thinks you should do, you will never be happy.
I wanted to be a journalist.
I felt the need to write and many people around me struggled to understand. Whilst many of my friends were unsure of what they wanted to do, perhaps working towards what people had told them were ‘normal’ jobs, I just wanted to spend my days writing about the world around me and encouraging awareness of what was happening.
Even today, to a lesser extent thankfully, when people ask what I do, I usually reply by saying: ‘I just study English Literature’. When these words exit my mouth, I can’t help but break eye contact or tilt my head in embarrassment.
People then proceed to say: ‘What do you want to do with that?’ To which my reply is that I want to be a Journalist.
I often feel a little stupid. I’m expected to say that I’d like to be a teacher which of course most English students are told regularly. I don’t want to be a teacher. I don’t have the patience.
As I mentioned, when I was still at school, someone told me I would never succeed in getting a job or making any money as a writer and this would make me miserable. Struck by a case of teenage uncertainty, I took this advice. I decided there and then to be a lawyer, because of course, lawyers make lots of money and therefore lead very happy lives.
Now, answer me this.
In the twenty-first century, how can an adult possibly suggest that money equals happiness?
Every day on the news we see suffering-violence, pain, loss. A couple of times a year, natural disasters will wipe out huge populations.
If hurricanes hit the United States, considered one of the most powerful countries in the west, then how can anyone say money will bring happiness?
Money is used every day, not just to feed families, build shelter and fund medical treatments, but also to build weapons, drive the modern slave trade and to exploit millions.
I entered into my A-levels with the poisonous view that doing something I didn’t enjoy, working hard at something I hated and pursuing a career in which I would be perpetually miserable were all worth it as long as I had money. In my head, a job was a job and money was everything.
Thankfully, after two years of trying to convince myself that I loved sitting in the confines of an office showing little creativity, I got a work placement that made me realise that I couldn’t bare to suffer boredom in pursuit of riches.
By the end of that week, I’d made the decision that never again would I listen to someone who was willing to tell me I couldn’t do something.
Luckily, this experience enabled me to enter into the second year of college knowing for certain that I had been right all along. I loved English Literature. I loved History and Politics. I certainly did not love the practice of Law.
For my last year at college, I worked incredibly hard. I managed to get a weekly column in my local newspaper at only eighteen years old, bagged a job writing for a recruitment website and I began to read.
This time it wasn’t Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer. I read the news religiously and many textbooks. I spoke to as many people as possible to gain as much knowledge about the world of Journalism.
I won’t pretend that being a Journalist is glamorous. From my limited experience, it does often involve running around with wet feet, sitting staring at a screen angrily because you can’t find that one right word in your sentence or standing like an idiot in corners waiting for interviewees to be ready.
Paying £9,000 per year in tuition fees, working several jobs and continuously trying (and failing) to elbow your way into the BBC studios so that hopefully SOMEONE will read your CV or hear you out makes it even more difficult.
But I love it.
I love the fact that I’m paying a ridiculous amount of money to graduate university and continue through my twenties eating beans on toast. It excites me more than anything in the world.
And do you know why this is?
It’s because I’ll be spending my life doing something I love, making an impact on other people’s lives and most important of all, being incredibly, unapologetically and limitlessly happy.
Why don’t you share your own Real.Life.Rays of happiness?