Why the Right Title Doesn't Mean the Right Choice
I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend of mine who is a brilliant creative over lunch this week. She is an aspiring, young, creative entrepreneur with work that has already been featured by some of the world’s biggest media outlets. As we talked, we focused in on what it takes to get more comfortable with an entrepreneurial path.
I knew that at one point, she had secured an internship as well as possible full-time job with a major network corporation. It sounded like a pretty impressive gig; certainly, one she could be quite proud of at her age. It was a title that others could be proud of: family, friends, colleagues, strangers on the internet. It was an easy one to toss out in conversation and not have to justify. That made it more desirable.
Until it wasn’t.
That’s the nature of our work. It happens because what sounds good to everyone stops sounding so good to us.
That’s a difficult place to be, especially when others seem to figure it out with little difficulty. They find themselves on paths we should be envious of and how can we not be? It’s so much easier to rely on the name recognition of a job than it is to be honest with others about exactly what it is you’re pursuing. People don’t understand it until you have displayed a degree of success that THEY can measure.
Don’t let the allure of titles tempt you towards something you aren’t passionate about.
When I left my job in search of my creative passion, I thought through a lot of potential paths. Growing up in Burbank (the entertainment capital of the world) it seemed natural to consider going into the entertainment industry. Win-win: I could find a job that got me around the creative process, was still potentially safe and stable depending on the area I went into and best of all, that sounded impressive. Say you work at NBC, Disney or Warner Brothers and you’re basically off the hook! While working there might have been incredible (as it is for so many people), I wasn’t actually considering it for the right reasons. It was a step closer to creativity, but still in the safe zone.
When it became clear that wasn’t a path I wanted to pursue, I became very invested in a career in law. So much so, that I spent the next several months deep in LSAT prep, tutoring and even secured a fantastic internship with some incredible lawyers! This was finally it: I could gain new and exciting skills, work in areas I was passionate about (non-profit law, family law etc) and who isn’t impressed when they hear you’re a lawyer? This was the big creative break I was waiting for. Except while I was deep in my LSAT prep, I began working part-time for a little company called Dubsado.
While the allure of law school was great, I couldn’t deny what I was experiencing in this small, risky, title-less startup: It was creative freedom; it was passion; it was fulfillment. Suddenly, the titles and the prestige that came with what I thought was the “right” pursuit, didn’t seem so appealing. Neither did what most people thought of my decision.
My friend ultimately chose not to accept a job with this big company after her internship. Instead, she began to create for herself. She wrestled with the questions of “what happened? I thought you were working with…” (asked by myself included) and slowly but surely, gained peace with her decision, despite the confusion. When we met, she was moving forward with more purpose and vision than ever.
That’s the power of being honest about what you’re passionate about. It breaks the chains of expectation and titles. It puts you in control of your own happiness. Don’t let what others think of a title or a career be what guides your narrative. Building your happiness on a foundation of the expectations of others will eventually let you down. Empower yourself now and don’t look back.