Follow Your Bliss…Say What Now?!?!

So I attended a workshop a few days ago where I was encouraged to “follow my bliss” and  encouraged to encourage college students to “follow their bliss”…


Okay, so you can call me “anti-everything” if you want to…I have a very good friend who does so on a regular basis…BUT…

I don’t know what that means? (grumble…grumble…*^$#&?!@)

I mean…I know what’s it’s supposed to mean… “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life…” kind of sentiment. But – I’m sorry – it just doesn’t ring true…for me. And I think it’s kind of misleading, especially to students, many of whom are struggling to figure out exactly who they are and what they want to do when they “grow up.” When, officially, does that happen (growing up) anyway?

It’s kind of a disservice, really, to imply, first of all, that we have a “bliss” and that it can somehow allow us to pay our bills, put food on the table…you know, all that mundane, practical stuff.

I’ve sat with so many students who’ve said “I don’t know” when asked what they would do if money wasn’t a factor. And I get that. I was the same way. To be honest, I’m not sure I could put together an articulate response right now.

cookieWhat if my “bliss” is eating OREOS and watching documentaries? I can’t really follow my “bliss” now can I? I mean, I’d be terribly unhealthy and have no HMO to combat diabetes, heart disease etc….how blissful is this? You’d tell me that as an evolved and enlightened species, at some point my soul would cry out for more…hmpf…we’ll save this debate for another post…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s wise to get to know ourselves and make choices that align with our strengths, our personality, our interests. It is absolutely reasonable to expect that we should derive some pleasure and satisfaction from our work.

But this is, I think, the difference…for most of us. If we take to heart “follow your bliss” we internalize the idea that there is a career equivalent of Prince Charming…that’s going to gallop up to the castle, rescue us from the “who-am-I-what-do-I-want-to do-for-the-rest-of-my-life” tower and ride us off into a happily-ever-after 401K.

sad-frog-clip-artIsn’t there a lot of work (and life) that’s more like kissing frogs? And this is just it…if we can come to value the frogs, I mean frogs are pretty amazing…when you really kind of watch them..and that noise thing they do in the summer when their throats swell up – I mean, I could hang out with frogs for hours!

We do ourselves a disservice, I think, to head into the world of “workin’ for a’livin'” thinking it’s supposed to be “our bliss.” It’s work…it’s challenging, frustrating, difficult, exhausting…but it’s also rewarding, satisfying, engaging, fascinating…

“Bliss” is a fickle friend…it morphs and moves…before you know it…you’ve spent the bulk of your life chasing after it. Maybe instead of “following our bliss” we should “shop for a great pair of jeans”…you know how it is…when you’ve tried on a million pairs…but nothing feels right, nothing seems to fit right…in all the right places…until you finally find “the pair”…ahhhhhhhhhhhh!…I mean, jeans can’t make me 10 pounds thinner or a foot and a’half taller or more patient…but they can look good and feel good…and hold up even after crawling around in the mud to hunt for frogs…


2 thoughts on “Follow Your Bliss…Say What Now?!?!

  1. Excuse me, but I’m fixated upon word choice, and I am referring to intrinsic rewards in the 5th line down, not extrinsic. It’s only 2 letters, but it must be noted because extrinsic is not intrinsic. Thank you, and pardon my oversight. 🙂


  2. As somebody who has in the past worked in an ill-suited field outside of academia, a former legal-secretarial career that finally reached an end because of an utter lack of exercising original creativity and enduring sheer tedium (I could not sit still in that chair typing anymore to save my life), I am fully cognizant of the extrinsic rewards that ensue when one fully realizes that one has a specific role to play in the work force based upon personality, preferences, recognition of one’s strengths, fortitude, satisfaction, background, and life skills. These are important elements to consider when deciding what type of work to become involved in. Being content in the working world can be vital to one’s physical and emotional health; students should take this into consideration while in college pursuing classes that will ultimately lead to a career. But if students fully expect that their jobs will constantly be full of fun and allow them to experience the intrinsic rewards constantly, they will be greatly disappointed. Why? Because others will have expectations for them. Unless one lives in total seclusion (which will probably never happen), there will be requirements to adhere to. And, money may be secondary, but the world still runs on it. When figuring out an academic and career path, consider more than the intrinsic, and be prepared to compete and work well with others. It’s a given.


Holler Back Ya'll

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