Aspirants neglect passions out of fear of failure


Feature Photo by Tyson Jamieson

Ann Fitzmaurice

Shaking under the lights of the 2015 Capers talent show, then-sophomore Amanda Andrews read her heartfelt poem to more than 500 students. Afraid of being cliché and pretentious, she clutched her written poems in her right hand and read her emotions to all in a 36 line composition.
“It was the first time people I knew didn’t see me as the obnoxious funny girl and as someone who has feelings and anger,” Andrews said. “It felt good to be honest for once.”
Prior to Capers, Andrews had always written short poems. In the beginning, she submitted them into contests and got published into many poetry books. This persuaded her to audition for the talent show. The feeling of being on stage and people telling her how much they related to her writing made something click.
“It made me feel like I’d finally found my destiny and that I needed to make people this emotional for the rest of my life,” Andrews said.
Her parents, however, had another idea for their daughter’s destiny: not pursuing the arts at all. They looked at medical schools for Andrews to go to and yanked her back down to reality with “practical” careers.
“When I first started entering my poetry into contests and performing it, I was the happiest I’ve ever been,” Andrews said. “I think the risk of poetry is why I love it. If I had the full support of my parents, I would waste no time in making a career out of [it].”
With the looming disapproval of her parents, Andrews doesn’t think she’ll be able to follow her passion. A study in 2013 by Gallup showed that approximately 70 percent of adults don’t enjoy their jobs, opting for a paycheck rather than workplace happiness. Furthermore, someone pursuing singing as a career gets paid $46,571 on average. This wage rounded up to $50,000 a year could barely pay for a family of four to survive in today’s economy.
These statistics have driven those thinking about pursuing a passion such as a singing career away, such as sophomore Harper Dailey.
In the seventh grade, Dailey was in a choir of about seven people. They joined up with Gentry Middle School’s choir and combined for performances as the choirs shared a teacher. At some performances her singing went flawlessly, but at others, the vocals fell. Every time Dailey went on stage, her anxiety skyrocketed. She pushed through, however, and was successful. But even the positive result of her public singing performances couldn’t convince her to follow her passion with confidence.
“I don’t think I could pursue [singing] as a career,” Dailey said. “I’m not that good, and it’s hard to be successful in the music business without being rich.”
Although her friends pushed her to follow her passion for singing, Dailey had little optimism. Her freshman year, she wasn’t accepted into choir like she wanted to be. This made her believe she could never really be successful in her dream field.
“If I wasn’t even put in choir, how could I make it? My friends may like my voice, but I know I could never make it,” Dailey said.
Unable to believe she’ll ever make it as a singer, Dailey scratched the idea altogether. Instead, she has settled for microbiology or genetics. So far, Dailey has been taking the mandatory class of biology to see if she’s still interested in the field.
“I may enjoy microbiology, but it will never be equal to my passion for singing,” Dailey said. “If not that, it’ll pay the bills.”
Although Dailey found a practical career she might enjoy, career specialist Jane Lymph said happiness and careers go hand in hand, setting a detrimental path to those who chose their paycheck over their passion.
“We spend upwards of 30 years of our lives working,” Lymph said. “If we’re specializing in a job we enjoy, those years will be incredible. There is no point of coming home to a mansion if ⅓ of our lives are spent in misery with a hated job.”
Lymph believes with one life, there is no point in spending it with dread of going to work every day. Even with this knowledge, 60% of people chose to ditch their passions for fear of not having enough money to be secure.
Afraid of failing both in skill and finances, Dailey chose to shove her passion under the rug. In fact, only six percent of Americans achieve their childhood dreams, according to entrepreneur and business guide John Haltiwanger. Everyone else cut off what makes them happiest in order to please family members or their own wallet.
“One day, I hope to write as much as I can as either a hobby or as a full time job,” Andrews said. “But for now, I’ll do what I need to do in order to keep moving towards my passion.”