We heard it from teachers and parents: “You can do anything you set your mind to. Go live your dreams!” Their parents delivered a different message, “Get a good job” or “Find a good man” for the most part.
So here we are, trying to live dreams and pay bills at the same time. Our parents stopped telling us to pursue those dreams soon after realizing they’d have to bankroll them. Now our friends tell us.
“Curate a purposeful life!”
“Stop complaining about your job and follow your passion.”
“Sell all your belongings, learn how to make leather goods and peddle them out the back of your vintage Airstream trailer.”
It’s really nice to dream. And it’s great to have goals that you’re working toward. What’s less great is when 30-somethings with trust funds tell you to risk everything and follow your dreams. Or when someone whose grandparents paid for college tells you to stop complaining about your job.
Quitting jobs to travel the world, pulling kids out of school to set off on a year-long road trip, finding enough people who want you to take their picture or style their food so you can still pay your bills: these are things most people cannot do. Most people don’t have a safety net to catch them when these colossal risks turn to failure.
Half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. So you should know, when you tell people to follow their passions and stop complaining, or to create the life they want, most of the world sees you climbing onto a soapbox and screaming at the top of your lungs, “HEY COME LOOK AT MY PRIVILEGE!”
Do you know how many people in the US are thrilled to land a job at McDonald’s? Do you know how many people in the world aren’t able to provide for their families? Do you know how many immigrants live in homes with 10 other people and send entire paychecks to relatives who can’t afford food or healthcare?
And do you know how ignorant and naïve it sounds when you tell those people to take more risks in pursuit of their purpose?
I’m proud of my friends who have turned passions into paychecks, but for those of you encouraging people to stop complaining and start doing – humble your shit out a little bit. Realize that you’ve been afforded a fuckton of privilege. Climb down from your soapbox. Donate some of that money.