How much is your life worth? It is an abstract concept to wrap your head around, because the gut reaction is to value your life above anything else. Currently, we are young students still deciding how to personalize a version of life that satisfies our ambitions and desires. Unlike older generations, we do not have children to worry about or the societal norms of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s breathing down our necks, feeding us the expected “right and wrong” way to go about life. We are Millennials and Generation Z: Young, passionate innovators who have brought about some of the most progressive strides in activism, technology, entertainment and sports through figures such as Malala Yousafzai, Evan Spiegel, Justin Bieber, Simone Biles and  countless others. As we contemplate what we want to be after the label of student wears away, we have endless possible titles ready to be substituted. Although the older generation’s definition of life differs from ours, their readiness to die for their passion is inspiring. 

There are inherent dangers ingrained in any occupation, some more immediate than others. Police, firefighters and soldiers willingingly put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of others. Recently, the Thousand Oaks shooting exhibited the bravery and heroism of a veteran who worked  in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for 29 years. As a first responder on the scene, Sgt. Ron Helus rushed into the bar filled with terrified college kids and an active shooter. He was blasted with multiple bullets and died hours later according to a Nov. 8 CNN story. This reality of putting your job before your life is daunting. How much dedication to your profession warrants accepting the fact that you might die right after you clock in? Helus had planned to retire the following year, completing 30 years of faithful service to his job. He did not flinch when thinking about the danger that proceeded beyond that door. He was doing his job, a job he loved, which grew to be a part of his heart over the past 30 years.  

A journalist’s job is to keep the public informed by sharing and revealing information that the world should be aware of to be better informed and take more strategic action. Journalism does not usually get perceived as a dangerous craft. Only when the pen gets replaced by a gun do people realize the dangers behind releasing words that stain another’s reputation and that cause a different train of thought from those in those in power.Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who criticized the Saudi government, was murdered by a team of Saudi agents. The Turkish investigation sorted through all the lies the Saudi government was trying to spew and confirmed that Khashoggi was murdered by agents in the Saudi embassy. Khashoggi knew the risks of revealing the truth, yet he remained loyal to his profession because he believed in its core values. He believed in the importance of journalism and although he was probably killed inhumanely, he upheld his values until the very end of his life.      

Now, I am not saying you have to die in order to prove that you love your job. The message is that your passion should motivate you to live. This entails getting up every morning excited to start a new day of work, not being consumed by boredom or dread and straying from the rat race in order to find your own path. When people do things they enjoy, creativity and efficiency soar, fostering some of the most progressive and positive working environments. It is through this that the world advances because people tend to thrive and contribute most significantly to society when they are happy and believe in what they are doing. 

During Thanksgiving break, I encourage you to take some time to be your own head hunter. Try to find an internship in your desired field, but extensively research the company to see if you believe in their mission. Look for a summer job that does not encompass your direct interest, but rather a field or topic you have always wondered about and are looking to further explore. Select a job or internship that satisfies your interests and upholds your beliefs, but do not be so quick to turn down a job that may challenge how you maintain your beliefs, and it is in these moments in which your faith and passion are tested.

Tests of devotion are good from time to time. They make you question whether you truly believe something or are trying to satisfy someone else’s notions of what you should believe.

Nevertheless, I am not so naive as to think the job market is swimming in an abundance of openings or that it is easy to get your dream job on the first attempt. Yet it is through the trial and error of many different jobs that you can develop a passion for something. After all, does anyone really know what they absolutely love until they have had a thorough look at all of the alternatives?  

The key to happiness is feeling complete, which is accomplished by feeling like you are contributing to society. By being a valuable part of a given community, you will want to live and continue to share your passions with the people of the present, in addition to the next generation. If the older generation taught us anything, it is to live as though nothing is holding us back.

Find an occupation that you are passionate about, and, if you can get to the point where your passion becomes the joints supporting your life, then you might have achieved a special euphoria few people have the pleasure of experiencing.