The world we live in places a great deal of pressure on everyone – especially adolescents – to figure out what they want to do with their life, and decide who they want to become, while still meeting society’s expectations. There’s this notion that everyone has to not only graduate college, but get a degree in a ‘respectable’ field, and go on to find a 9 to 5 office job that pays the bills until you’re old and retire. And because this crafted life plan is pushed on us constantly, we don’t try to escape the confines of it. Rather, we learn to accept it, despite what we feel is right for us. We’re all individuals, all different people – we cannot fit a single mold.
Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps and author of Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, knows that everyone has unique goals, passions, and talent. He understands that white collar jobs are not for everyone, and that finding your life meaning is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Dave encourages people to listen to the voice inside of them, and though it may not be easy, find the courage to live out their dreams. His book explores unforgettable stories of people doing what they love from all stages of life.
Watch Dave Isay in the video below to learn more about how you can find your life calling, follow it, and achieve success while living out your dreams.
Transcription of Dave Isay on finding what you are meant to do in life.
Don’t listen to people around you. I mean, you really have to kind of trust yourself. Somewhere inside of us, if we’re in a quiet room, and we listen really carefully, a voice inside of us can tell us what it is we’re meant to do.
So, you know, nothing good in life comes easy, and it’s always a struggle. It’s always really hard work. But I think the lesson of this book is that it may not happen when you’re young. It may not happen when you’re middle-aged. It may take until you’re older, but you’ve got to keep struggling and keep fighting until you find that thing.
It’s like falling in love with the right person. When you know, you know. And when you’re there, Jesus Christ, it feels great.
There’s this woman, Barb Abelhauser, she had been in a white-collar job. She was working in an office for years and years and years, and she knew that’s not what she was meant to do. And one day, she had the courage just to quit and to do what she wanted to do, which happened to be sitting in a little box on a bridge being a bridge tender, quietly by herself for years on end.
And she speaks with this absolute, just, poetry about what it’s like to sit in that little box day in and day out, how every sunrise and every sunset is like a snowflake, and the animals she sees, and how this is what she realized she was meant to do. She says at the end of the story, she just didn’t want to wake up on the last day of her life, get hit by a bus, and, as that bus is coming, know, like, I screwed up. This isn’t what I wanted to do with my life. She wanted to know that she was doing the right thing, and she did.
And there are many stories like that now. Not everybody ends up being a bridge tender, but it’s people who always fight and struggle to find that thing inside of them. If you’re quiet by yourself, there’s kind of a small voice inside of you that knows what it is you’re meant to be. And these are people who had the courage to find it and to live out those dreams.