We go to school so we can get a job. We get a job so we can pay the bills. Suddenly, somewhere in between paying off our mortgages and scrambling to pay our taxes, we’ve reached the age of retirement: the Golden Years, or so they say. As exhilarating as shuffleboard in the Florida Keys may be, I can’t help but to question why so many of us have accepted this notion, as now a norm. Shouldn’t all of our years be golden? Countless individuals, myself included, have been blindsided by a number of contributing factors; society, the so-called American dream, what have you, to believe that in order to live the “good life” we must work our asses off into exhaustion. We start our days groaning at the annoying buzz of our alarm clocks, loathing them for even existing at such ungodly hours, only to start a day off on the wrong, uninspired foot. In order to live the lives we’ve imaged, we first must be passionate about what we’re doing on a daily basis rather than sulking in a swivel chair at a 9-5 desk job.
So many of us expect to “find ourselves” throughout our years in university, traveling, or wherever your expected rite of passage may lie, when in reality I feel that we’ve housed it all along. I see these monumental experiences as catalysts, rather than breeding grounds to the inspiration we’ve all been waiting to find. If it holds true that fear breeds insecurity, we need to let go of the “what ifs,” and simply do the things we’ve been day dreaming about in our cubicles for days, or weeks on end. You can’t expect to discover your passion, discover yourself, while you’re merely toying with these aspirations.
It wasn’t until interning at a nonprofit in Australia that I discovered my passion for cancer research organizations. Having lost my father at the age of 13, I’ve always known I’ve wanted to give back to the cause, not for myself but for his legacy. But it’s okay to get caught up in your own life, especially as a young adult, right? Wrong. Fear breeds insecurity. It’s one thing to want to make a difference, and another to actually do something about it. You could talk the talk for as long as your vocal chords allow, but as any motivational one-liner will tell you, actions speak louder than words (see: my mother, an ex-partner, or any hot-tempered individual).
While working for Can Too, a nonprofit organization that matches fitness goals with a great cause, I was fortunate enough to come into contact with some of the most inspirational people I have ever met in my life thus far. Founder and Director Annie Crawford is the epitome of inspiration. Creating this program has led innumerable participants to raise valuable funds for cancer research, aiming for an astounding $10 million by this upcoming September. Upon having the pleasure of meeting one of the researchers that has been funded as a result of this program, I was completely taken aback. The vast amount of gratitude that Dr. Nguyen had towards Can Too and the efforts of the participants was completely engrossing. It wasn’t until this encounter that I had fully realized how much of a difference such programs truly make. Without the grant funded by the Cure Cancer Australia Foundation, researchers such as Dr. Nguyen may never be able to exert their brilliance into the medical field. These individuals are our heroes. As much as I enjoy indulging in a “quality” tabloid, I can’t seem to recall the last time Britney Spears tried her hand at curing cancer. Yet we still idolize these individuals as if they’re changing the world; one questionable music video at a time.
If nothing else, working abroad at such an enriching place has been a wakeup call to both myself, and hopefully soon society. In order to be the change we wish to see in the world, we must first have the passion, and then the drive. It’s time to let go of our selfish desires, our “coulda woulda shoulda” mindsets, and do something about it. It’s up to us. No longer can we put off our hopes and dreams, and continue to wait for the world to change. Instead of staring at the screens of our HPs, our Macs, clicking around waiting for carpal tunnel to kick in, I urge you to discover your drive, and put the pedal to the metal; whichever road you may choose.