Passion vs. paycheque

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: DEE-DEE SAMUELS
The greatest gift I was ever given were these three words: "Just keep going."

“Can you make a living at pursuing your passion?” is a question that plagues many students as they move into adult life. I write this as a mature student, recalling my own experience many moons ago, fresh out of high school. I wasn’t savvy enough about real-world realities to even ask the vital questions regarding the logistics of pursuing an unconventional career as an actress.

I was a star of the stage in my hometown of Sudbury, Ont., an award-winning local actress who attended a northern Ontario high school for performing arts. My sights were firmly set on heading to London, U.K., (the birthplace of my mother) and taking the West End theatre world by storm. I had no money and no family support (my father, being a conservative man from India thought I had lost my mind thinking learning how to tap dance would provide me with the ability to earn a decent living). But off to England I trotted, equipped with mere passion and the inflexibility of my determination.

Looking back at the magical mystery tour of my life during those years, I want to hug myself for achieving so much with so little and I want to slap myself for not preparing myself properly, which would have allowed me to capitalize on my wins and sustain them.

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So, to answer that question, yes, you can turn your passion into a paycheque. But it’s definitely a conditional “yes.” I believe that if you tackle the unconventional path with a conventional strategy, you can fulfill your passions and earn a living. Perhaps some of my experience can help you navigate the possible hurdles you may face along your own magical mystery tour.

If your passion happens to be finance, business, computer technology or marketing, then you’re in luck – according to Statistics Canada, these are predicted to be the “most in demand jobs” for 2022 and onwards. Now more than ever, Canadians are focused on the steadily rising cost of living. Statistics Canada states that the average cost of living per province ranges from $2,300 per month in more rural areas to $5,500 per month in the bigger cities.

In tackling the fiscal component of your life, having some core skills can work for you. There is an old saying some folk still subscribe to which states that if you have something to fall back on, you are more likely to fall back. The world is evolving and so too are our mentalities around this outdated thinking pattern. Perhaps “falling back” should instead just mean to have a foundation to support oneself. Administrative skills, for example, are also forecast by Statistics Canada to be one of the most in demand jobs for the future. Investigate what employable skills can be incorporated into your financial plan while you pursue your passion. If you are truly passionate about something, nothing will stop you. What will slow you down, though, is living in constant survival mode. The point is to investigate, research and create a financial plan, even if you are a dancer or painter or an actor. Be passionate about the journey you are embarking on, even the fiscal one.

Another incredibly important key to succeeding while pursuing your passion is having a solid support network. Find a group of like-minded friends and networks and support each other. Surround yourself with people who care about you. Never be afraid to ask for professional help if you are struggling, either mentally or financially.

We are all going to fail a few times in our careers, whether in a project, or within an employed position. It will happen, but we need to find ways to not let those things define us. We need to reach out to our communities for support. And we need to find ways to improve, learn and carry on. Only having ideas and passion with no plan is useless. You have to have a living plan. Meaning, a plan that makes room to be rethought and adjusted as we live and learn and grow from experience. The greatest gift I was ever given were these three words: “Just keep going.”

To pursue your passion and make a living means you need to be constantly creative. Creating a home, creating a group of friends, creating work and ideas, creating finances, solutions and plans and most of all creating love. My life in London U.K., the one I dreamed of as a child, was pulled out from under me by five brain tumours in 2019. But here I am, graduating from the Film and Television Broadcasting program with a national award under my belt. This was only possible because of my passion, my purpose and my plan to never stop being creative. I wish you all the same.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.