I’ll never forget when I first applied to college. I did it without telling my parents (though I can’t remember how I paid the application fee), and got in before most of my friends had started their applications. I felt satisfied and relaxed for the rest of my senior year.
Until a friend got accepted to an Ivy League school and comparisons started flying left and right. School rankings were posted on the walls, and everyone was buzzing with big name schools.View the autosave
It would have been easy to get caught up in jealousy — maybe I would have if I believed that a prestigious school would make me happy.
Except I didn’t. I still don’t.
Prestige is an illusive and ridiculous achievement that I have been against for quite some time. It’s a quest for status, which usually implies going after goals that don’t feel natural to us.
My definition of “prestige” is all the things you wish you liked. But the truth is, you don’t like these things at all.
The hard way, I learned to put prestige aside, and to put my unique aspirations at the forefront of all my decisions. I learned early that life decisions have to be made based on what feels right inside.
Instinct is spot-on to an incredible degree. We always seem to know the answer, don’t we? Sometimes, we just don’t want to listen.
But what do we measure ourselves with when Ivy Leagues fall off the map?
Nowadays, Ivy League schools are less important. You hear less about Harvard than you do about startups like Facebook or Instagram. Online resource
So, instead of measuring ourselves by attending prestigious schools, we are substituting that with someone new…s like Codecademy and Coursera and changing the game. Education can even be as free as an internet connection.
Enter “Follow Your Passion”.
Over the past two years or so, the business world has exploded with tips and tricks for those three words: “follow your passion”. The new trend is to break free of the chains of mind-numbing employment and walk a new path of fulfillment and excitement.
It sounds nice. It promises to be a lot of fun. It is what Steve Jobs did, so it has to be the path to becoming a genius…right?
Stars like Steve Jobs, magazine and blog articles from huge publications like Inc, and billion-dollar startups like Facebook and Instagram have all created a web of prestige around the “follow your passion” movement.
All those that succeed in “following their passion” (like myself) constantly receive praise and acclaim. It’s a gold star of approval from society these days. Go after your dream, and you’re secured a place in the “Do-Gooder Hall of Fame”.
I find that prestige hard to swallow. It’s not the same, and it never should be.
Prestigious Ivy League schools don’t have much to do with instinct. Following your passion, though, is all instinct.
While following your passion and being an innovative entrepreneur is all the rage, there is a hard truth that is rarely told. Let’s dig deep.
I am going to pit following prestige against following passion. Let’s see who wins.
+1 prestige. There is never enough money to go around. If you have the money, you use it to grow. If you don’t, you scramble for more. Little to look forward to in that arena.
+1 passion. Quitting a 40-hour job to work an 80-hour one doesn’t make any sense. What does make sense is the emotion behind it all. Once you ride this rollercoaster, there’s no way you’re getting off. It isn’t pretty, but it’s hella fun.
+1 prestige. It’s exhausting beyond measure. The type of person that follows their passion is also the type of masochist that finds it hard to say no to attractive opportunities. Over-extending myself is now part of my regular state of being. Is it prestigious to take on projects and just say, “I’ll figure it out — somehow”?
+1 passion. A staff isn’t the same as a team. Formal hierarchy may not be followed, but a sense of true family emerges that is hard to replicate in any bug business. No prestige in calling staff members “dude”, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
+1 passion. When people approach you to say they congratulate you on what you are doing, what they really mean is: “Go get’em, tiger! While I sit comfortably in my very well-paid job.” They seek the thrill but lose out to the power of money.
There you have it. Passion wins by one! You heard it here first, folks. Prestige is a loser’s game.
(I am sure I missed plenty of points. Help me out by adding some more in the comments.)
As the entire passion as a career movement dangles more closely toward cliche, please remember this:
We’ve all grown up to follow prestige and what we wish we liked. Why not try something new?
Try following what you find awesome.
Try follow what makes your curious.
Try follow what keeps you up past your bedtime.
Try follow what you find exhilarating.
Following your passion isn’t just the next Ivy League. It’s much cooler than that.