Ever since our earliest years, we are always told to “do what you love”. And to be totally honest, aren’t a lot of us told to do this even before we learn what we love? Or what we’re good at? So if everyone encourages us to do that, why does it seem no one is willing to do it? How come, when a 12 year old child mentions his love of, for example, cooking or music or art, it’s quickly shut down as a hobby and not encouraged as a pursuit worthy of life?
Maybe this is shot down before it has time to take off because the parent or guardian or authority figure knows one thing- doing what you love is tough. Now, that’s obviously a generalization. If you love spreadsheets and number crunching and trading floors, no one will try to dissuade you from a job on Wall Street with a lucrative salary. But realizing your passion for the less financially rewarding things in life? Absolutely not.
That’s why Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen’s essay in Kinfolk is so amazing. She has realized that her calling (or callings) are against a heavy grain. Reading her essay, the reader realizes that following your own enjoyments is less about convincing those around you that you’re right, and more about coming to terms with yourself. Understanding fully just how difficult the road less traveled can be, but also realizing the rewarding nature of it all.
Ivana De Domenico, zion national park utah
If you’re compelled to visit Utah’s Zion National Park… then go!
See, Klassen verbalizing something many of us think, but few of us say. And whether or not we say it either because it’s true and we don’t want to face it, or because we couldn’t disagree more. Even though Klassen’s life can be tough, difficult, and unpredictable; it always provides for a worthy experience. She derives some satisfaction because just as wealthy bankers and traders have the envy of their peers because of material possessions and glamorous lifestyles, she has a similar envy and wonder directed towards her. She actually recounted a time she was at a dinner with wealthy financier friends, who fawned over her and expressed the desire that they led lives like her.
That’s something absolutely incredible to think about. The people society holds as most successful wishing they had the guts, resilience, and willpower, to follow where life took them. Klassen travels a lot, and has been in locales as varied as the most dense urban areas like New York and Paris, to ground under the starry skies of the Great American West. She’s done an amazing job of embracing this “weirdness” as she calls it. Some may find her strange, but she and they both know that the suburbanite who is too timid to shatter the status quo often dreams about what she does. They live vicariously through her maverick experiences. Their fantasies are her realities.
Some may call the essay self righteous or condescending, but the tone is not without a sense of honest sincerity. And it can serve to be an inspiration for us all. Do you have an insatiable wanderlust? Find something that will cater to it. And before you get too defensive, realize that yes, it is incredibly difficult to just leave your job. But if you work on your own skills, your own tangible contributions, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to snatch another one up. Our happiness is a priority, and wishing can only get you so far. Augustine of Hippo once said “The World is a Book, and those who don’t travel have read but one page.”
Get out there and read.