Career Corner: Finding the “why” in your passion: Can past struggles lead to your purpose?

Katy Popplewell joined the Office of Career Development in July 2017 as a Graduate Assistant. She is pursuing her master’s degree in student affairs and will graduate in May 2019. Katy is excited to be a part of student’s growth, development, and success.

I, myself was once in your shoes. My first major was psychology, communication science and disorders and finally, communication. I later minored in psychology and focused on public relations. I later went to receive a Masters certificate in marketing. Soon after I graduated, I landed a field marketing and sales role with two different companies to get a feel for the real-world experience. It was not what I intended to do, nor was it what I wanted to do, but it was the experience and the transferrable skills I learned throughout these professional roles that have provided me with exponentially personal and professional growth.

The question remains, will I continue my education after having conferred my master’s degree? I have hopes and dreams of obtaining a Ph.D. in psychology or higher education and becoming a full-time professor. Ever since I was a little girl, I would teach my stuffed animals and my family. It was just something that became natural to me. I have always had a strong passion for helping people, but more importantly, I wanted to make a positive impact on students’ lives.

Growing up, I struggled. I would come home and say to myself, “I can’t do this.” But I didn’t let my struggles overcome my abilities. I continued to receive further support and guidance in my weakness areas, like math. I worked tirelessly each and every day, and one day it just started to click with me and I became to understand the material. So well, that I received straight A’s in all three statistics classes. I want to build that self-confidence in others so they can truly believe and do whatever they set their mind to. I want to be that support system for students because I valued it so much growing up. I can’t thank my teachers and mentors enough that continued to challenge, yet support me. My passion lies in student growth, development, and success. The things we have struggled with most can often help give us insight into our purpose. Reflect on things in your life that you have struggled with and consider that your passion may be in alleviating the same struggles for others.

This article is not about me or my story. It’s about drawing pieces from your own stories and to connect the dots to your true passions and take the essential steps to achieve your end goal or dream. Pursuing your passion terrifies most people. It’s a pivotal moment of deciding to follow a dream or to be “realistic.” However, science tells us that having a passion can increase our overall satisfaction with life, making us happier and less stressful people.

My advice to you is to ask yourself, “What is driving you personally, and how do you see yourself in the people you want to impact?” Start by outlining a mind map of who you are as an individual, and from there, create branches of what you are good at but also take note of what motivates you and inspires you. Think back to your childhood. Try to link the things you used to do when you were a child. How did you spend your time? What were your favorite activities and interests? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you select to major in, it’s what you decide to do with it that makes the difference.

You want to know where your passion lies. Do you know how you’ve found your passion? Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life. You don’t feel forced or aside yourself to get out of bed and head into work. You should feel excited about what you do! This should be a passion, not just a job to pay the bills. It’s easier said than done. Of course, you have to make a living, but understand that money isn’t everything. Hold your passions close to you and make something out of it. I did, and I don’t regret it one bit.

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