What Is Your Passion Worth?
Gifted chef, turns out as a mediocre lawyer. 
The talented actor becomes a disgruntled doctor. 
A virtuoso violinist becomes a run-of-the-mill computer scientist. 

That’s what society’s pressure is creating–a new generation of unhappy professionals pressured into pursuing degrees and careers for material gains instead of pursuing their passions. Pressure can make diamonds out of coal, but pressuring people to do and be what they are not capable of never brings good results. 
Speaking of capabilities, our society pressures youth to do what is considered “respectable.” They tell kids to forget about their true Passion if it is not monetarily lucrative and think life is about achieving goals that society will accept. It is as if life is about being a doctor or working at Google, not about how you get there. Students put so much time into math and C++ to be programmers when they hate math so much they would rather eat their homework than do it. 
How often do adults hear the question: “What do you do?”
And the answer must come fast and be two or three words long. And that’s it! That one title, one designation is the sum of all qualifications, qualities, personality–You!  
These four words forming a question are the reason so many people are unhappy with their careers. Most people want to answer with something impressive. They want others to respect what they do. Often, kids will enjoy cooking or painting, but their parents will steer them away from this because, frankly, society will respect a doctor rather than a chef at the nearby Thai restaurant. This leads me to my main concern. As a society we shape our young generation’s future based upon superficial requirements. 
Young and ambitious people aspire to achieve their dreams, but instead, they are often forced to satisfy societal expectations instead of their dreams. What is perceived as lucrative and respectable might be their parents’ vision of the best life and career or perhaps what their parents could not achieve when growing up.
This mindset of being accepted by parents, and then ultimately by society, leads me to my first point. Without an inner passion or a “burning desire,” as my dad puts it, it’s not possible to get very far no matter how much society or anyone pushes one. According to Tempstar, “Passion, an overwhelming drive to reach one’s goals, is the one factor that unites all successful people in equal measure. Passion powers the hard work, determination, and creativity that make great accomplishments possible.” And take three words from that quotation, “Passion make[s] possible.” This proves that investing time into something that was forced by society isn’t possible. Trust me; if you aim to be a pharmacologist and don’t love chemistry, you won’t end up with any good reactions.
Often, such professionals either won’t have a job because they couldn’t progress any further without a passion or quit their job because they hated it so much. As one YouTube comedian put it in what was meant to be a funny graduation speech but turned out to be a quite inspirational one, “It’s like playing a video game. You don’t play a video game that you hate just because you think it’s going to be fun once you finally beat it.” And after putting hundreds of hours into something and then realize that you’re not getting anywhere, all that is left is the feeling of emptiness and void that you’ve wasted so much time not doing the things you enjoy.

Something I enjoy? The violin! Ever since I’ve started playing the violin, I’ve begun to enjoy classical music. Sadly, the genre is becoming less and less accepted by people of my generation. And when friends ask me what I listen to, it is almost difficult to say. Right now, according to Statisa.com, “In a survey conducted in 17 countries in 2019, around 37.5 percent of respondents stated that the genre K-pop was “very popular” in their country.” When I listen to KPOP, which is literally “popping” right now, I feel like I might eventually suffer the same hearing problems as Beethoven. It is painful for me to try to explore that genre. So why would I want to continue listening? Just to be accepted by society? In the same way, if you hate a specific subject or a genre, society pressure, peer pressure, and other exterior forces will not make you hate that subject less.

And just like I said, having no passion for what we do will not make it any more comfortable, but more unaccomplished because of crushed dreams. According to Stanford’s statistics, in 2019, for Stanford Med, “Of 7,506 applicants in 2019, 90 students (about 1.2%) matriculated.” And unless a student has an undying passion for that kind of thing, well, let’s face it, he/she is not getting in. Now what? They will feel hurt that they can’t achieve what they worked so hard for. This could lead to depression, and according to Mental Health, 3.4% [2-6%] suffered from depression in 2017, and if that doesn’t sound like a lot, well, that is 264 million people! And according to PsychCentral, “1 in 10 adults in the U.S. report having it.” Good Therapy also says, “Perceived Goal Failure Increases Risk for Depressive Symptoms…” Have you ever experienced when you try so hard, but you fail? “No, sorry, Coldplay. I’m not talking about you.” I’m talking about when you put months, even years, into climbing up to the proverbial ladder of success, excited to get to the top. A third of the way through the climb, you approach a hole ripped out of the ladder. It resembles a lack of passion and inner drive. The ladder resembles a path that society pressured you to take. But let’s be real, who wants to climb a tall ladder when you can take an elevator? The elevator box filled with people resemble a new environment that you are passionate about, and the force that is carrying you is your inner drive, lifting you up to the top.

So let’s take the elevator and rise to the challenge to find a solution. To overcome this issue in  many young lives, we need to accept that we make our own decisions, and nothing can change that. My message to all who feel that their passion is insignificant and will not yield a great result in the end: Do what you want to do! Or as Oscar Wilde once eloquently put it: “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

This article was contributed by:

Kartik Patri, Cupertino CA

8th grade student 

Passionate about violin, writing, and public speaking

Student at VoicED Academy