I received a heartfelt email last week from an unhappy accountant who’s seeking advice on pursuing his dream of boxing. While I can completely understand why crunching numbers all day would make you want to crunch the shit out of someone else’s face, James has a unique dilemma: He’s 26, and it could be too late to accomplish his dream.
I feel under-qualified to be this man’s advisor. Most days I can’t decide which pair of underpants to wear, so what the hell do I know? But James agreed to let me post this on my blog so that I could ask you … what should James do?
I’m going through a crisis of sorts, and came across your fantastic blog. Currently, I am training to be an accountant with a large accountancy firm. It’s a job with great prospects and it took me a long time and great effort to get here.
All I can think about is leaving. Giving up the security for freedom. It’s a mere means to an end – good money and a stable career, but I realised it is not my passion. I feel my life is slipping by. I want to leave and find my passion.
I effectively left school early at 15, and spent the next two+ years unemployed, drinking, smoking weed, getting into trouble with the police, etc. I was even so depressed I self-harmed. At 18 I plucked up the courage to go to a community college in an attempt to avoid becoming a bum for the rest of my life and continue my education.
Thinking I would do awful, I found I excelled at my exams, eventually going onto university were I gained a 1st class honours in accounting. Within a couple of years of graduating, I got a job at a Big 4 accountancy firm, which is where I am now, thinking at long last I’ve achieved my goal of landing a successful and secure career.
You’d think I’d be happy after all that effort?
I always wanted to box, but I kept on putting it off. I know it sounds crazy but that’s all I think about is boxing. That is my dream. I know it doesn’t sound noble; some people are born to change lives; to work with the poor and needy; to serve others. For that I feel bad, but I can’t deny myself that this is what I’ve really always wanted to do. It is my dream. I’ve wanted to box ever since I was a youngster, but was never confident enough to join a club. As an adult I became a fitness fanatic and have trained myself regularly, but always put off joining a club until x or y happens/ is out of the way.
Although it’s highly unlikely to become a great boxer starting out this late, it has happened. There are many examples of men who have had great success in boxing after starting out late (although they are the exception). Sacrificing what I’ve grafted so hard for to try and become a boxer is beginning to occupy my mind more and more. The accounting exams are tough, and lacking motivation it now looks increasingly likely I’m going to fail them, and leave the firm at some point anyway. I’ve already failed two (one very badly!), so I am already contemplating quitting. It’s such a big decision; I’m scared that after a few years, if I don’t find my passion or something to excel at, it may be the biggest mistake of my life.
But at the same time, I don’t want to pursue this just in case I could have had a happier life would I just make the leap. I keep asking myself, what if? What if? Even if there is only a one in a million chance of leaving and becoming a good professional boxer, is it really worth the risk? It really is something I would actually have passion for, and surely that is the important thing, but if things don’t work out I’m scared I will regret giving up the potential of a good career with good money. If things don’t work out, will I end up feeling even worse than I do now?
I feel even more determined to live the life of my dreams as I don’t feel I made the most of my early life; looking back, I didn’t have the happiest time growing up, and I didn’t make the most of my adolescent and early adult years – years that should be the best of most people’s lives. It makes me feel sad that I didn’t make the most of my life, and that I’m continuing to do so. It doesn’t help that I have such a questioning, analytical mind.
I like your quote “if you don’t grab the steering wheel and take control, you’re just careening blindly towards death with nobody manning the vehicle” – this is exactly how I feel!
I apologize to sound so selfish in a world where there is so much suffering. I know I am already relatively lucky; 4/5 people on this planet live in poverty, and though I feel unfulfilled and unhappy, I try and remain grateful. Although I suppose that’s no reason to not at least try and make the most out of life.
It is my belief that we have many lives, and in our earlier lives we yearn to achieve more material things, and once this is satisfied, in later lives we aspire to more lofty and noble ideals. I feel my stage of development is at this earlier stage, however I am also trying to push my development by studying philosophy, spirituality and human psychology when I can. I do yearn for material success and but I want to develop myself as a person too.
I feel so depressed and feel that life is slipping me by. I guess I’m looking for a nudge in the right direction, as I still lack the confidence to try and find my passion and live it.
Any comments welcome.
Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.