7.4 billion people on Earth, 6.7 million job openings, and 6.4 million job seekers available to fill them. With the rising population of young people, these numbers are expected to rise. You might be thinking about where you fit in. In today’s society, many young people struggle to find their why’s and their what’s: why am I on Earth? (purpose), and what should I be doing about it? (job/career). The question of where one fits into society, and the world, is one that can be explored from a variety of avenues. In this post, we will aim to help you discover how to find the place where you fit, and also offer some advice for taking action in line with your “why.”
Strengths vs Passions
There has always been an interesting contrast between focusing on your strengths or following your passions when choosing a career. On the one side we are told to “follow our passions,” and on the other side, we are told that for the most part “passions do not pay the bills,” and that we should rather perfect our strengths and choose a job based off of that, or even just find a job- any job. Passion can be defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about someone. I am a firm believer that passion drives effort and success, however very often when people advise choosing a career you are passionate about, they don’t tell you that passion alone will not drive success. When one combines their strengths with that which excites them i.e. their passions, undoubtedly they can create and contribute something of utmost value to a new venture or an existing one. As a result, I believe that the intersection between what you are GOOD at, and what EXCITES you, should guide your thinking and narrow your options when figuring out Where You Fit In.
Key: Passion is not a substitute for hard work; rather it drives your efforts, which in turn leads to success.
Jot down your strengths (those things you are good at) and your passions (those things which excite you). From there, you can narrow down your search for jobs that enable you to combine the two; Careers which require you to have certain qualities that mirror your strengths, whilst allowing you to do things that excite you simultaneously. You might not find an industry or career that has the exact intersection between the two, but certain careers can weigh more on your strengths while others might weigh more on your passions. If you cannot find this intersection, they are still ways for you to incorporate your strengths and passions into your career.
For example, some companies have what is known as resource or employee groups, that allow employees to get involved in things that interest them outside of their regular scope of work. These groups could range from empowering a certain group of people, e.g. a group for black female employees or a group focused on giving back to the community. Research some of your companies of interest and see what groups they have available to cater to your interests.
Key: You might not find a career that encompasses the exact intersection between your strengths and your passions, but there are other ways to incorporate them into your life to achieve the balance you might seek.
Job vs Hobbies
Now, maybe you have not found a career or industry that allows you to combine your strengths and passions, do not lose hope. Many people have a day job (utilizing their strengths) and find hobbies to be able to do what excites them outside of the workplace. Examples of this could be starting a YouTube channel in which you create makeup tutorials, or joining a community organization that enables you to advocate for a cause you care about, thus allowing you to be involved in things that interest you aside from your day job. Hobbies are a great way to incorporate your passions into your life.
Somebody once told me that not everybody has the luxury of pursuing their passions or even going towards a career that enables them to exercise their strengths. It is understood that some people can do what they love – combining their strengths and their passions- fairly easily, but others (the majority of us) have to work extremely hard to be able to pursue the careers we know to fit into our “whys.” Hard work trumps luxury, privilege, and it enables you to not be stuck in a career that you absolutely hate.
The easy route might be to get your degree as quickly as possible, in a major that is guaranteed to get you a job and pay the bills (not giving much thought to whether it fits into your why or if you will be able to utilize your strengths or exercise your passions), but the most beneficial and valuable route to take would be to seek to discover your why and your what, relate it to a major (if you even need to go to college) and go for it keeping in mind that hard work is a major input into the formula for success. The result I propose is that you will be happy- not only within yourself and how hard you have worked to get to where you are but also within your career and what you are putting your daily efforts towards.
So, don’t choose the easy route. Do your research, know yourself (think strengths & passions), and find a way to combine them both into your career or as hobbies. When you are content in your position and you are adding value to it, you have found your why. And it takes time– your first major, your first job, or even the first business you start might not be it. But with time, experience, patience, and perseverance, you WILL hone in and discover where you fit in.
Keep at it, because once you find the place you fit in, you will realize that you were the missing puzzle piece needed to complete the picture. Without you- it is incomplete. Never stop discovering and pursuing your why.
Key: Complete the puzzle- figure out where you fit.
By Cindy Makita