Twentysomethings: Working For Purpose?

As I sat in one of the several thousand seats about to graduate my university, I believed whole-heartedly in the American Dream: I would soon be in a well-paying job that I absolutely loved and I would somehow be helping my fellow man!

A year later, I am now looking for a second career.

What is wrong? I want meaning, I want passion, I want to do something that MEANS something, and I want to get paid to do it. I am in my early 20s and part of Generation X. I grew up with two hard-working parents and worked part-time jobs all through high school and college that I really enjoyed (whether it was taking orders and making cappuccino or driving my university’s drunk bus).

Now, I have a bachelor’s degree and the world should be mine. I have this innate sense there is a larger meaning to my life, that I am meant to do something great. And this is somehow leading me to the conclusion what I am doing right now (and getting paid quite well to do it) is not of great meaning and gives me no passion. Instead, I go through the same motions each day to do just enough to make my supervisor happy and get a paycheck.

Is this what I was meant to do? Is this what my parents and their parents strived their life to do? Work in a seemingly dead-end job, work up the ladder, and look forward to the 5 o’clock bell?

What I wonder is: Is there a way to be happy in a traditional 9-5 job? And if there is such a thing, does it require looking past minor faults in the job? The people? The pay? Everyday, in an endless struggle, twentysomethings wonder the same things. What is it about our generation that has given us such lofty aspirations? Why can we not be content?

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To offer one solution (not to be confused with the absolute answer or even the correct answer) I feel like I grew up being told that no matter what I wanted to do in life, I should be happy doing it. Our parents were so concerned with putting bread on the table that happiness took a back seat. That is why we saw so many people in mid-life crisis with a red Corvette or the second, younger wife. Instead, our generation has seen the mistakes of those prior to ours and decided that no matter how long and hard the struggle, our happiness will be our top priority.

The question is, will we achieve it?

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