Students leaving passions in pursuit of success

by Danielle Lorberbaum

It’s late on a Sunday night and a student is busy printing a stack of hundreds of papers for a fraternity fundraiser he is heading. He is a man of many talents, including the fact that he is a professional trumpet player who has performed with big name musicians in famous halls and has won many awards. Senior business major and music minor at Chapman University, Naoto Hall, is a man whose passion lies in music. Yet, in a recent conversation, he announced that he already has a full-time job at a top accounting firm upon graduation.

“I lost faith in myself that I would make it as an artist. The amount of commitment wasn’t higher than the percentage to which I would succeed,” said Hall.

He would much rather be playing, but being a musician isn’t practical, and usually doesn’t make a consistent income.

Today, America’s culture has taught many in the recent generations that the definition of success should be high income and power. While this is a dominating factor in many career and life choices, it has definite consequences…

“To me, waking up in the morning is success,” said senior public relations and advertising major Dylan Reuter. "We often forget this basic act is something to be thankful for."

“At this point in my life, success is getting internships that I want…that I think will lead to the job that I want…and good grades,” said sophomore public relations and advertising major, business minor Vaughn Ryan.

“Success is if I completed all the tasks I needed to get done and if I made a positive impact on someone’s day,” said sophomore communications major Lauren Jeworski.

Junior broadcast journalism major, Natalie Aronson, agreed with this statement. 

“I usually base it off how much I get accomplished in a day, but also how much of a difference did I make that day,” said Aronson.

Students are all different, but there is an underlying theme of needing to get things accomplished in order to move ahead. The part that is usually forgotten, like getting up in the morning, is that relationships with other people and yourself is what truly makes one feel as if they are accomplished once money, positions, and the pursuit of those is pushed aside.

“It’s dangerous not to do what you love,” said Mark Maier, head of the leadership department here at Chapman University.

In his favorite class to teach, Maier emphasizes the idea that we should all be pursuing what we love in our life as well as work.

“The money would only please me for so long… you don’t give your job what you could if you weren’t in something you love,” Ryan said. "When someone isn’t doing what they love, they simply can’t put their heart and soul into it."

“You’re really not attached to living, just outcomes…so it’s really hard to be present and focused on what you’re doing now, and really fully enjoy each day that you’re given, because it’s always about something in the future,” Maier said.

“It’s a constant battle that I always think about is to what extent should I stop working as hard as I am and take a step back and enjoy life, or to what extent should I continue to bust my ass to be as “successful” as possible…there’s rarely been breathing room,” Ryan said. "Students are always stressed, pushing themselves to their new personal limits and time restraints."

Maier added to this statement.

“If you define yourself by your achievements, then you never have time to slow down. So many peoples’ lives have been dictated by, ‘do it now for what it will get you later.’ If you’re constantly living your life like that you’re never appreciating what you have right now,” Maier said.

Yet, despite this, many students work themselves to exhaustion. Maier explained that our culture promotes “put the pedal to the metal” and that from a young age we are instilled with thinking about moving up, climbing, and doing-all very self-centered views of the world. Aronson added that she’d always like to hope that parents tell their children to do what is best from them, but with such a competitive society, grades and getting further academically do get stressed.

“We’re all trying to be better and are measuring our success by how successful we are economically rather than socially,” Ryan said.

In a study conducted by Srully Blotnick from 1960 to 1980, he surveyed 1,500 Harvard MBA students asking if they wanted to make money and then do what they love, or just do what they love upon graduation. 1,245 students said they wanted to make money, and 255 said they wanted to do what they loved. 20 years later, out of that survey, there were 101 millionaires. All but one of them came from the original 255 that said they wanted to do what they loved. It goes to show that people really do better when they’re passionate and engaged in their work.

“We often see how successful and happy people are because they’re doing something to make a difference-it’s not money that drives them, its happiness. But I think we’re too stubborn to realize it,” Aronson said. She added that it’s so “idyllic and unattainable” accepting that doing what you love might not result in as easy of a lifestyle as alternative options.

Maier suggests giving yourself time to define what success is for you individually. Periodically take time to step back and reflect on the direction of your life. Don’t forget, it’s never too late to do what you love.


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