Chasing Dreams: Pursuing Your Passion, It Ain’t Easy by Heidi

Chasing Dreams logo

Chasing Dreams is a feature about pursuing a career path that you’re passionate about and going after your dream job.

One of the perks of being a book blogger is you get to meet fellow book lovers that you wouldn’t have ever been friends with if you never had a blog. I will always be thankful for how my blog has introduced me to so many wonderful friends. Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks is one of those friends. We’ve gotten to know each other through blog posts, email exchanges, tweets and even a readalong. Heidi’s pretty smart and when I found out that she could relate to my Chasing Dreams feature, I knew she’d have clever things to say about the topic.

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Bunbury in the Stacks

You know those posts you see about how hard someone worked to get where they are, but it was all worth it because they made it? This isn’t one of those posts. This is one of those posts written by a woman who strategically avoids Facebook, largely because seeing all of her old friends land their dream jobs, find the perfect home, and happily find marriage and children a part of their lives makes her feel a terrible mixture of jealousy and self-defeat when she wants to be genuinely happy. The reality is, it’s much easier to be happy for others reaching their dreams if you’ve reached yours yourself.

A decade (or a little more) back when I was in high school I was certain I’d go to college, meet my true love, get married, and of course find a job I was passionate about and completely fulfilled me, one I would work at for 30+ years before retiring. I thought that’s how life worked. Now, a lot of you out there are shaking your heads at young, naive little Heidi, but the reality is, that’s how it worked for my parents (I thought). That’s how it worked for my older sister who was very much a role model for me (I thought). Heck, when you’re from a town as small as mine, it really seemed like that’s how it worked for everyone. Truth of the matter is – that’s not how life works, for me, or maybe anyone. The world isn’t as simple as we thought when we were 17.

Heidi

Heidi’s photo from her About Me page

There have been a number of “ah ha!” moments in my life where I suddenly had it all figured out. Followed by a number of subsequent moments when I collapsed in a heap of hopeless disappointment.

When I went to college, I was so sick of having everyone say “oh, you’ll be majoring in English”, that I stubbornly chose not to major in this area that I loved. I also stubbornly refused to consider switching schools when I was unhappy with where I was, or ever ask for the help I desperately needed. So I instead floundered about for several years before realizing (as a senior) that I wanted to work in the book world. Ah ha! Of course, it was too late to change my major – this was a private school, I literally couldn’t afford to extend my education.

After college, I moved back home to Wyoming, and eventually found a job working for a local museum and cultural center writing grants and publicity, and helping to coordinate events. I loved my work. I felt that I was part of a driving force behind an educational, recreational, and community-oriented organization; I was so proud of what I did. I knew that my interests definitely bent toward engaging others, and being highly active in every single program and project we pursued for the enrichment of the community. Ah ha! Of course, I didn’t factor in a serious long-term romantic relationship.

I ended up leaving this job and my beloved Wyoming to move to New York with my serious boyfriend. As happy as I was, the value of my relationship overrode a job where there was really no room for upward mobility. I thought moving to New York would be the perfect opportunity to marry my two previous ah ha moments by pursuing librarianship. Ah ha! Of course, I didn’t anticipate that the area I was moving to wouldn’t hire so much as a page (heck, won’t even take volunteers) without going through the lengthy and difficult Civil Service process.

It would take a certain amount of time as a resident before I could pursue the Civil Service route (then testing/waiting for results/waiting to be placed, etc.), and knowing that I wanted to pursue librarianship regardless, I decided to work toward obtaining my MLIS while finding a paraprofessional position to obtain experience. Ah ha! But then… I never found a paraprofessional position while I was in school, and now that I’ve graduated I’m in that awkward limbo of being both overqualified (employers don’t want to hire applicants with professional degrees for paraprofessional positions because it is seen as a stepping stone and they will likely have to replace that position in a few months) and under-qualified (I don’t have the active library experience of other MLIS applicants. Stuck.

Maybe this entire post seems as if I’m throwing one big pity party. In a way I am. I struggle with the idea that I may never find a job I’m passionate about every day. I have so much drive that just needs to be tapped. I know that I’m good at what I do. I’ve excelled at every job I’ve ever had, and I know when someone eventually gives me that chance they won’t regret it. But waking up every day and remaining hopeful and persistent in your pursuit of dreams–that’s tough work. I certainly don’t succeed at it every day, but I also know I’m not alone.

At the moment, I work two part-time jobs that are adjacent to things I love – knitting and books. Neither is a career, but both are helping me to broaden my mind-set and realize that there are more opportunities out there for me than I’d initially anticipated. I’m trying to make what experience I have work to get me to where I want to be. There are other venues for education, engagement, and creativity that I would love to be a part of – fields I could be passionate about that I never anticipated having access to. Sure, I lost all of my long-term social connections when I moved to New York, but I also entered an environment that holds so many more opportunities than I ever could have imagined back home.

The reality is, chasing dreams sucks. It’s brutally hard, full of emotional pitfalls and double-edged swords. Sometimes you’re going to have to perform triage on your life and determine what’s the highest priority. For me, that was my relationship. And while pursuing that has left me in a veritable drought career-wise, I don’t regret that decision for one minute. Is my life fulfilled by only that relationship? Unfortunately, no. I still have my heart set on a career as well. What I always assumed would be the easy part has been the most difficult aspect of my life so far. But I hope that someday I’ll be that person who has it all, the one who makes others scowl on Facebook. Until then, I’ll just keep plugging along for that next ah ha moment.

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Thank you, Heidi, for that insightful guest post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be able to relate to what you said. When I was younger, I thought I’d have figured things out by now. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. I do agree that chasing dreams and pursuing your passion is tough (if it were easy then we’d have all done it by now) but I remain hopeful for the future – for myself, for Heidi and for everyone else who is in the same boat.

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30 thoughts on “Chasing Dreams: Pursuing Your Passion, It Ain’t Easy by Heidi

  1. Pingback: Chasing Dreams at Chachic’s Book Nook | Bunbury in the Stacks Chasing Dreams at Chachic’s Book Nook | One has the right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. Every serious Bunburyist knows that. ~ Oscar Wilde

  2. My sister has the same aversion you do to facebook (she doesn’t even have one), and for the same reasons. This is what I tell her, not that she listens: people on facebook generally post things that make them look good, because facebook is all about those life milestones being shared and facebook friends are people you know IRL. No one wants everyone they know in RL that maybe their life isn’t going so great. So don’t compare yourself to that – there is so much hidden from view. You’d probably be surprised at the number of people comparing themselves to YOU and thinking you have it so great – maybe thinking they settled and didn’t take the exciting route of going to NYC and sure they have a career but now they’re stuck and really afraid to do something different and they have kids and a husband and it’s too hard to go back. 😛 You never know! Anyway, this is my older sister-ly “don’t worry about other people” speech that I haul out on the regular. I’m sorry, it is a compulsion.
    This was a really great post by the way. Thanks for putting yourself out there about the way chasing dreams can have its share of bumps and unexpected hard choices.

    • Thanks for the piece of advice, Janice! You’re absolutely right, people tend to sharing positive things in their Facebook profiles because it’s a way of sharing good news to everyone in their network. I guess that’s applicable to most of my Facebook friends that I’m not really close with. But for some of my good friends that I get to talk to on a regular basis, I see them moving forward with their lives, taking masters or MBAs and it feels like they have clear goals while I’m still trying to figure things out. I’m trying to be positive about things though, hence the Chasing Dreams feature. I know I’m pretty lucky, I was given the opportunity to work abroad and I have a regular job that pays the bills and lets me do what I love, which includes reading and blogging.

  3. Heidi, I can totally relate. I always thought I’d have a career in academia…then halfway through grad school my adviser took another position and the program that funded my fellowship got axed by the Bush administration and I realized that I hated the politics of higher education. I put my education on hold to get married, and then was almost 30 by the time I decided that I wanted to be a librarian. I think a lot of people can relate to being in the “overqualified, underexperienced” category. Good luck, and with your dedication and talent, I’m sure you’ll find a library position eventually!

    • Molly, thanks for sharing your own experience! I find it inspiring that you were almost 30 when you decided to become a librarian. I’m almost 30 and I still haven’t decided what I really want to do with my career. It would be great if I found something that’s related to books but I’m not really sure how to go about that since I don’t have the qualifications for it.

    • Keertana, I think all of us expect our lives to turn out a certain way back when we were young. Looks like we’re in similar situations if you’re also still trying to figure things out. I’m glad you thought Heidi’s post was inspirational, that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with the Chasing Dreams feature. 🙂

  4. Heids, you are not the only one who thought life would be easy to navigate, I am sure I had similar thoughts in high school! But, my life has not turned out the way I planned either, I guess that’s ok. But, I completely understand wanting to have a career job you love and not having it can make you feel down. Don’t let the lives of your high school classmates bring you down because you are awesome 🙂

    • Mandee, yes, I do agree that life doesn’t always turn out the way you initially thought it would. It can get really frustrating not to have a job that yo love, or not even have a clear path towards it. But yes, Heidi is awesome and she shouldn’t let her Facebook feed get her down! I mostly just browse Facebook feed and spend most of my time on my blog’s Facebook page instead.

  5. I really, really love this post! I felt the same way about my life and career and the like when I graduated high school, and then again when I graduated college. The truth? It’s been four years since my college graduation, and I still feel like I’m discovering the truth of what I would like to do with my life, and figuring out just how to go about it. What I love about this post, most of all, is the hopefulness that still shines through! You can do it Heidi, I know you can 😀

    • It’s been six years since my college graduation (whoa, didn’t even realize it’s been that long) so I’ve had more time than you out of college and I’m still not sure of where my career sould lead. But I remain hopeful for all of us! We will get there someday. 😀

  6. Heidi this was so wonderfully written and holds so many truths. I think chasing dreams is a lifelong process, mainly because dreams change. I know mine have so many times. I graduated from college 13 years ago and my dreams and goals in life our still shifting and changing. Then there is the other people in our lives and their dreams to factor in. My husband’s job moves us around, often with little notice. So yeah, I know what your saying.

    Chachic, I love these posts. It is nice to see others who are willing to admit to lives in flux and dreams as yet unfulfilled.

    • Brandy, that’s a nice way of putting it. Chasing dreams is a constant process since we’re always changing. But I guess you can still get to that point where you’re content and happy with what you’re doing, right? I’m glad you’re enjoying these posts, I love having people do guest posts about this topic because it’s something that I keep thinking about lately.

  7. Aww Heidi, I already knew a little about your career woes but thanks again for sharing. Your honesty and openness is inspiring. I can totally relate to thinking it would be relatively easy to land a dream job in your field after college. We were so naive and inexperienced!

    • I love how honest Heidi was in her guest post, it’s good to know that I’m not alone in having career-related difficulties. It’s so easy to believe that everything will work out right after college because that’s how it seems for most of the adults in our lives (e.g. our parents) but like Heidi said, it probably wasn’t easy for them either.

  8. I’m pretty sure that relatively few people have their life unroll as they expect and plan. I definitely didn’t. It’s so true that dreams shift, and also that different goals turn out to kind of interfere with each other.

    I look around, though, and it seems to me that things have usually worked out okay for most of my friends and relatives — eventually. What worked for me — again, eventually — was to take a job I like but don’t really care about, and then let my hobbies take over my life.

    • You’re right, Rachel, most people turn out okay – like even if they’re not truly happy about their jobs, they find fulfillment and happiness in other aspects of their lives like hobbies. Letting your hobbies take over your life is an interesting approach. I guess I can say that that’s what happening with me now because both reading and blogging take over my life outside of work.

  9. Loved this post, it hit on so many things that are going on in my life currently. I’m enrolled in an MLIS program and I’m going to be finished in August and I’m in the “overqualified, but no experience” category too and it’s honestly been scaring the crap out of me! I also have a long-term (and currently long-distance) relationship that I’m trying to juggle in the mix. Anyway, I loved that your post was so real but it was still hopeful at the same time. I kind of stress myself out with planning my life sometimes, but these are good reminders that it’s good to just let things come as they may.

    • Are you planning to apply in library positions after your MLIS? I heard from a former colleague that he knows someone who has an MLIS who became an analyst instead of a librarian (but then again, I’m already an analyst and it seems like it would be more fun to become a librarian). It’s just that I keep hearing that library positions are so hard to get because they’re very competitive. I think we all go through phases and we stress ourselves out over what should we do with our lives but I guess we just have to remember that there are so many factors that we can’t control.

  10. Indeed Chasing career is toughest job, I have recently graduated , & I have always wanted to do something different than the monotonous job , but even when i try to fly outside my comfort zone , the society puts its best efforts to pull me down , influencing my parents & filling their minds with absurd ideas , about things they have no idea about …. But I won’t lose Hope , I will keep pushing myself , untill I find my happiness ….. & in this journey its good to know you can share your views with people , who have faced something similar sort of …..

    • Yes, finding the right career path is tough and it’s comforting to know that you’re not alone in your search. Good luck to all of us! I hope we all manage to find jobs that we love.

  11. I once thought my passion in life was cooking and that I’d one day own a restaurant. I mean, I was totally and completely convinced. And then I actually tried it out. I was in culinary school for all of about 2 months before I figured out it wasn’t for me, I still love cooking, but I don’t want it as a career.
    Then I just /knew/ that being a librarian (or possibly just bookseller) would be the thing that fulfilled me completely. Until I realized that I absolutely despise school and probably couldn’t make it through three or so more years of it just to be qualified. Plus, my passion for it seemed to just fizzle.
    And now? I work as a parking garage attendant and am actually really happy. It might help a bit that I also get to read on the job ;]

    I hope things start going in your direction soon, Heidi :]

    • The things that you mentioned are the reasons why I haven’t pursued a career in the book industry – I’m not sure if I only enjoy it as a hobby and whether I should go back to school to be qualified. That’s good that you were brave enough to try different fields. And that you’re happy with what you’re doing now. 🙂

  12. Pingback: Chasing Dreams: Guest Post by Rachel Neumeier | Chachic's Book Nook

  13. Heidi, thanks for sharing such a personal post. I thought I’d be Clair Huxtable by now and I’m… Sondra. Wilderness store Sondra at that! Or maybe I’m Denise. Either way, I think there’s a quote about journey vs destination, but BLAH to all that. Keep chugging along because I can’t wait to be jealous of you! 🙂

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