Following Your Passion
I recently read an article that referred to my generation as “GYPSY’s,” which stood for “Generation Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies”. This term meant that my generation was a "unique type of yuppie, the kind that thinks he or she is the main character in his or her own special story." The point of the article was that our generation was generally unhappy, because of our extremely high expectations for our lives. It talked about how our parents worked hard for years for prosperous, stable careers, and how we conversely have this additional need to be “fulfilled.” We’re no longer satisfied with a career that just pays the bills and gives us a healthy retirement, but we now have this need to be satisfied at emotional and mental levels as well as financial.
The article went on to discuss how the phrase “a fulfilling career” has exploded in Google searches in recent years, and the phrase “a secure career” is nearly nonexistent in searches.
In general, it painted a dire picture of these GYPSY’s, alluding to the fact that the very happiness we seek can never be attainable so long as we cling to the belief that we are special and different, and our belief that the grass could always be greener, or better manicured, or fertilized with better organic free-range grass-fed cow manure.
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything the article said – I happen to believe that it’s healthy and in our own best interest and in the best interests of those around us to seek a fulfilling career – I do agree with the sentiment that a lot of us are generally unhappy and we’re not sure why. You see, the one point that the article didn’t mention was that as long as our happiness is tied to something that could fluctuate or change, we’re setting ourselves up for dissatisfaction, because change is the only constant.
And it’s not just a fulfilling career that our happiness is tied to – it could be having a certain body type, a certain type of house, a certain car, or a significant other that makes us feel a certain way.
For example, let’s look at the body image conversation, as it’s a huge one for these Generation Y’ers. The more modern idea of “accepting the body no matter what condition it’s in” actually doesn’t resonate for a lot of us, because we know not to accept poor health or a diet of fried foods. But instead of learning to look at the body objectively like the beautiful, intricate machine that it is, and caring for it so that it lasts as long as possible and functions as well as possible, we instead obsess over “what could be” to the point where we’re unsatisfied until we’ve reached that point.
The good news is that in spite of all of these challenges we face as GYPSY’s, our generation has brought on the growth of meditation as well. It teaches us to not only accept what is, but at the same time to not tie our happiness to what is either. Through focusing on tools like the breath, it teaches us to be okay with whatever might come, but not to anticipate what comes next.
By being present and showing up for our lives and all of the challenges and opportunities that each moment presents us with, we’re already cultivating the best version of ourselves that we can, which we can offer to the next moment. For example, by learning to be patient in this moment, I’m creating a more patient me to go into tomorrow with. By learning to be more aware and caring for the body that I have here now, I’m better preparing myself to coach this body into health and wellness tomorrow. It’s like Randy Pausch said in his infamous Last Lecture: "It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. "
There’s a passage of the epic poem “The Odyssey” by Homer, in which the main character Odysseus is returning home after the fall of Troy. In that poem, Homer says the following: “On these sands and in the clefts of the rocks, in the depths of the sea, in the creaking of the pines, you’ll spy secret footprints and catch far-off voices from the homecoming celebration. This land still longs for Odysseus.”
This passage talks about Odysseus’s homeland aching for his return in the same way that a lot of us Generation Y’ers ache for growth and change and hope for the elusive arrival of some super-hero version of ourselves.
But I believe that this present moment, your life in this very second, longs for your presence just as deeply. If we’re constantly looking for improvement and searching for what’s next, and wondering if we’re really fulfilled or if we just feel fulfilled and if we are, how long will it last – if we’re focused on all that, we’re not really showing up for our lives or the people in them.
In the end, there’s something to be said for what could be, but there’s a lot to appreciate in what already is, too.