I got a fortune cookie once that said “You will be involved in many humanitarian projects.” Now I am no superstitious gypsy, believing that my future can appear within a little deep fried knot I got with my fried rice at a dingy Chinese restaurant called Chopsticks, but I think it was a little inspiration I needed. I have always contemplated running off to an underdeveloped country and getting down and dirty, really helping, seeing a difference. No more of this ivory tower crap. I’m not the only one with this little flame of passion waiting to explode inside me (wow that was kind of more grotesque than I was looking for.) I have plenty of friends that are waiting for the right time to give up on the glamour of their idealized jobs and join Teach for America or the Peace Corp. My sister is currently struggling to decide whether to major in Special Ed when she goes off to college next year, advancing her love of helping autistic children.
I hear plenty of people saying they are going to help, shifting their goals from individual success to success through others. But why are my friends still running off to grad school so they can jump to the tops of their industries and make a 6 digit salary right out of the gate? Why is my sister looking at law school? Why am I sitting in a cubicle? Money. Our parents don’t want to see us moving back into our old bedrooms, working for less than we can get by on our own. A valid concern. A catch-22. It’s not that our parents don’t want to see us help a child learn to read or build a home for a family; it’s that they want us to have a home as well. Apparently, my group of friends are not the only ones with this conundrum.
I love seeing positive trends within my generation, instead of the constant nagging of the shallow exterior of today’s young adults that we hear from our older counterparts in the media (which is ironic considering the superficial frame of the media right now, but I’m sure they blame that on us too).
So where is the balance? I do admit that I find my parents pulling me back down to earth when I tell them I’m quitting my job to do something more rewarding, to feel like I’m making a difference, instead of formatting excel spreadsheets and pulling endless numbers from databases. But they continually remind me that I need the money before I can run off to South America to work in a cocoa bean field. Untill then, I have to find fulfillment on a smaller, after-work, scale. Volunteer. So I found a local art center that needs volunteers to work in its gallery during shows. Not only does this get my foot in the door in the art world, something that I have more passion for than queries, but also have something that I am doing where my work is needed, where people love what they are doing. Get involved.