(Photo credit: ralph and jenny)

My friend sent me an article from the Harvard Business Review blog yesterday that defines the problem facing Generation Y in three words: “Follow your passion.”

It’s a variation on a well-worn argument — basically we’ve been told our whole lives to set huge expectations for ourselves and pursue our dreams, and then we received a rude awakening when we grew up, graduated college with tons of debt and moved back into our parents’ house with very little hope of a comfortable independence right away or a stable well-paying job where we can actually do what we love — both things that seemed to be promised when we were starting out.

Cal Newport, the author of the article and a professor at Georgetown University, writes that the problem is just that, the misplaced expectations that “following your passion” will automatically — and immediately — lead to success.

Good point. But to the adage “follow your passion,” I’d like to add a few more well-meaning pieces of advice that I heard over and over again growing up:

“The sky is the limit.”

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“Never settle for anything less than the best.”

It’s not that this isn’t good advice. I love that I didn’t grow up with a cap on my dreams. It’s just that they only tell half of the story.

What I’ve come to realize too late is that we’ve been fed a paradox. Our parents, teachers, coaches and counselors told us to “go for it,” but they also gave us some other, albeit less-emphatic, advice.

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It’s the first day of fall!.. which sadly means the end of summer.

While there is something romantic about the falling leaves and crisp autumn air, I can’t say I’m overly thrilled to say goodbye to the long summer evenings, days in the park, picnics, frozen yogurt and eating avocado at least once a day. This is one of the best summers I’ve had in a while. I graduated college right on time, and post-college unemployment, though not ideal, meant I was able to spend the last few months just enjoying each day as much as possible.

I guess it had to end some time.

Photo: Jhaneel Lockhart

I’ve come to accept it grudgingly, especially because I anticipate fall will come with its own pleasant surprises, but I couldn’t help but doing some reflection.

About four months ago, I sat on my bed with one of my close friends, Jordan and came up with a summer bucket list:

– Learn to drive (Still no progress)
– Leave NY (Nope.)
– Jog often (I was on a good workout schedule for the first month or two, but then life happened. *shrug*)
– Read 50 books. (5/50. I knew this was over ambitious when I wrote it down, but still.. In my defense, Atlas Shrugged took a month!)
– Write poems. (I wrote LOTS!)
– Take a baking class. (Didn’t even bake a single cake, which for me, is unheard of!)
– Renew my passport (My procrastination knows no bounds.)
– Spend time with cousin (Did this!)
– Apply for jobs (Did this..)
– Write everyday. (Not quite everyday, but I did do pretty well on this one.)

I was horrified when I first looked back at this list a week or two ago. But then I realized that while I may not have completed this specific list, I did so many other things, one of which was conquering my roller coaster fear and going to Six Flags of all places!

Also, in true listaholic fashion, I’m starting a 101 in 1001 list! (Coming soon)

Onward fall!

Photo: Jhaneel Lockhart