Have you ever asked why you are you? Why you do the things you do, and why you think the things you think? I asked my mother once and she told me that people literally spend their whole lives searching for the answer to that question ... comforting, I know.
She also said what people don’t realize is that there is no concrete answer. We’re all individuals with a purpose so no one can just give you the answer. Others can help to support and guide you in your life journey in hopes that one day you will be able to answer that question for yourself, but ultimately it’s up to you.
Figuring out who you are
So, where do you start? By defining happiness.
Why, you might ask? Well, because ultimately that's what every single human being is working towards. Happiness. So what is happiness to you? What do you need to be happy? And what tools do you need to achieve your idea of happiness? As I've gotten older I've started to make more sense of all this, so don't panic—it gets easier.
For me growing up, my parents never expected me to be 'something': a doctor, a lawyer, a philosopher, etc. Instead, I was encouraged to be 'someone': someone who finds purpose in their daily life; someone who is happy and fulfilled; someone who is not only good to others but to themselves.
From this, I learned that things like money, a degree, or a job are all just tools that help us live out our personal values; it's not about what you have, but what you do with what you have.
So when you choose a path in life it's really just an explorative journey, because it's where you begin to decipher what your deeper values and motivations are.
What makes you happy?
I began working as soon as I was old enough to get a job, and I've had a job ever since—sometimes two or three at a time! I did this because I hated asking my parents for money, especially when I could be making my own. Having a job didn't take away from my academics or athletics. I was still heavily involved in competitive dance and, though my marks weren't in the 90s, I wasn't failing either. My life has always been a bit of a balancing act.
That's part of my personal definition of happiness: I want to balance all the things I love and want to do. Since I began working at a young age, I've developed a strong work ethic and I've been able to try out a bunch of different things. I worked fast food, retail, reception, non-profits, waited tables, and I've even had a big-girl office job.
These varied environments taught me what kind of work I like doing, and what kind I don't. My work experience actually made choosing a career path fairly easy. I did the research and I knew what sort of work environment I would be happiest in.
What do you want to do?
I chose to become an educator, not because of the paycheck (ha!), or the holidays, but because I'm passionate about learning and find purpose in the act and art of teaching. I have a learning disability, so school never really came easily to me—but that's okay. It's because I struggled that I'm able to understand the difference that a quality education can bring.
My goal is to provide a quality education to every student who walks through my door so that they can explore and grow.
The teaching profession also provides me with a creative outlet; I'm constantly challenged to find new ways to engage students and inspire their will to learn. My past work experience, and the time I took to reflect on what makes me happy, have helped me to feel confident in choosing a career path.
So put yourself out there, explore different environments and people, because that's what will challenge you to question what motivates you and where your deepest values lie. There are a lot of jobs that could make you happy, but first you have to figure out what your definition of happiness is, and you can't do that without trying a few things.
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