Why I’m Glad My Job Has Nothing To Do With My Passion

Writing has always been a passion of mine — the type that makes me always carry a little notebook in my purse in case I come up with an idea for an article or the plot line for a story. My love for words started when I first realized I could enter completely new worlds just by reading, and then later discovered that I, too, could create them if I wanted to. That words were as much available to me as they were for the authors I read.

And yet, even though I felt — and still feel — this strong love for writing and the excitement that it provides, seeing characters come to life after only being in my mind, or concepts brought to reality by my pen, I knew from early on that I would never study writing. There was absolutely no way I was going to ruin my passion for writing by pursuing it in college. And I was so clear on that, because even though I knew writing was my passion, it wasn’t my calling.

I am from Venezuela and have lived here my whole life. To give you a little perspective on how the educational system works around here, let’s start by saying that we don’t have “majors,” much less “minors,” and neither are we offered a variety of subjects and classes to freely choose from when we enter university. However, what we do have is the responsibility to face the decision of what our career is going to be for the rest of our lives at the tender age of 16-17, which is when we graduate high school. Then we enter five years of university, throughout which we study 10 semesters of core curriculum specifically designed for every career path.

So, as you can probably imagine, it’s freaking nerve-racking to be a senior in high school! But on the other hand, what you probably cannot imagine is how much we are encouraged to pursue our passion, to study something that is our true calling. And even when this sounds lovely, it’s also pretty confusing — because what if your calling isn’t the same as your passion? What if you have two sides to you, and not just one? Hell, what if you have multiple sides?!

And this is precisely where I wanted to land: the huge problem it presents to tell people — especially young ones — that their calling and their passion are one and the same, or worse, that it HAS to be the same thing, when to me that’s completely false. Because in reality, I don’t think they are synonyms, but rather antonyms. The reason for that is the same as to why I graduated with a law degree instead of one in communications or journalism.

To me, your calling is something you feel you ought to do in this world — that thing where your talents and skills are going to be most useful towards others, and through which you are going to impact the people around you. And this is not about idealizing a career path and saying that everyone should have this grandiose desire to radically change the world. No, when I talk about impact, I refer to the capacity that lays within all of us to make a difference and to contribute in the community and society we live in. That difference is something we can accomplish by pursuing our calling, because it’s something we know is bigger than ourselves.

That’s what being a lawyer represented to me. I knew that studying law would equip me with the legal knowledge and necessary skill set to succeed in this path. But much more importantly, that it would fulfill this need within me to comprehend the way society functions and, most importantly, how we can improve it. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind about choosing this path over the rest. Even over writing, because writing wasn’t — and still isn’t — my calling. It is passion.

As far as passion, this is something that you desperately love to do, is something you feel naturally drawn to, that brings you profound joy when you are doing it. For some people, passion and calling are the same. It is way easier for them to pick a single path and stick with it, because it completes all sides of them. But that wasn’t my case. I could have never been able to actually study journalism or communications; to me, even though there is always room for improvement in writing, it wasn’t something I saw myself doing actively everyday just for the purpose of doing it. To me, writing is a complement to my law degree, because it is through words that I can advocate for causes I believe in, or make someone change their mind, or at least give a second thought, about an issue regarding human rights. Writing is both my escape and my entrance. It is in writing where everything begins and ends. But it is in being a lawyer where everything develops and unfolds.

We must have the courage to pursue everything that sparks joy in our hearts, even if they seem completely different from one another, even if the mere conjunction of both seems illogical. Do it! Be as well-rounded a person as you wish to be, and pursue everything that makes you happy, not just a passion. Most of all, don’t settle for trying to narrow it down to just one thing. Maybe you have multiple things that excite you — give yourself the right to explore all of them.

Roxana is a 23-year-old Venezuelan lawyer with a passion for writing, Pablo Neruda, and overly sweet coffee.

Image via Unsplash

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  • Lauren

    This is the most helpful article I have ever read on the passion/work divide. I too chose law instead of doing something related to books, my life’s passion — publishing or library sciences etc. But I had a hard time explaining why. The calling/passion divide perfectly explains it and put my mind at ease in a way it hasn’t been since I started studying law. Thank you so much.

    • Roxana Altuve

      Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m happy that the article helped you put your mind at ease, and I completely understand where you are coming from, I too felt confused for so long because I couldn’t understand why there seem to be so many people being happy with just one path, whereas for me I had these two loves, but the thing is that we don’t need to decide for one or the other, we can pusue both! So go ahead and kick ass at law school! You’ll absolutely love it 🙂

  • Lauren

    This speaks to me so much. I am also an aspiring novelist. But it’s not paying the bills right now and it won’t for a couple of years. I do love tech writing. It’s not my passion. But I enjoy it, I’m good at it, and it makes actual money.

    • Roxana Altuve

      Hi Lauren! Thanks for taking the time to read the piece, and what a wonderful thing that writing is something that can be present both in your current job and your ultimate career path. Which by the way, I think you should loose the term “aspiring”, You ARE a novelist! Just the fact you have the bravery to create stories and the desire to show them to the world is a pretty good reason to call yourself a novelist 🙂 (And one I’m sure will soon find her break to be published)

  • Summer

    Really enjoyed this. I’ve done my share of job-hopping through the years, and whenever I gravitated towards opportunities that were directly tied to personal interests, I always felt myself burning out. It’s discouraging, in a sense, because you start to second-guess your own level of passion for those things; even though basically everything in life ultimately boils down to moderation and therefore it makes perfect sense that even though you might really, really enjoy something, maybe you don’t want to spend every waking second thinking about it.

    • Roxana Altuve

      Hi Summer! I swear your comment should be an additional paragraph in the article! I completely share your point of view on the fact that it shouldn’t feel mandatory to do something we feel strongly passionate about everyday as a job, because that could be the thing that make us loose our love for it in the long run. Kinda like a crush we don’t ever wanna date, it’s weird because we like him, but we also know we couldn’t stand much of him if it’s not in our terms 🙂

  • It’s a very good point. I also have a true passion for writing, I have a bachelor degree in journalism but I never did journalism, and probably never will. My mission in life is to show other people how they can control their own professional destiny and writing is a huge part of that mission. Right now I feel like I’m not doing what’s helping me complete my mission, so I’m turning into what I love to do to be happier. However I totally understand your point because even though I love writing, my goal is not to be a writer but to incorporate writing in my daily life while communicating with people!

    • Roxana Altuve

      Hi Rita! I’m very happy to see that the article spoke to you and your personal experience combining an interest you feel passionate about such as writing, along with your life purpose -which sounds terrific by the way 🙂 . Sometimes we may feel we are not doing enough to accomplish the goals we’ve set up for ourselves in order to do the most with our lives, but I think you should give yourself a lot of credit because a) You have a clear idea of what you want to become and how the knowledge and skill set you possess can work in your favor to achieve that goal, and b) You know and recognize you have to start taking more tserious actions in order to stick with the path you’ve decided will fulfill you the most. So go ahead and keep a good energy!

      • Hello, Roxana, thank you so much for your input. You’re so right, I have to give credit for myself because I asked the right questions to myself and I know what my path is, and two years ago I didn’t, so that’s some progress! Also, you got it when you said “start taking more serious action”. I’ve been listening to do it/action motivational quotes for so long but I haven’t really done strategic powerful actions. And now that I have a sense of who I am and what I want to do, the path becomes so clearer that I know I will be able to reach my goals. Thank you and let’s keep the good energy!

  • Lava Yuki

    My passions and career are entirely separate entities. I highly value stability and security so I was very reluctant to pick a fun but risky job where employment would be uncertain. My passions were drawing, Japanese language and gaming, but career-wise they were all pretty much at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to paying bills and even just getting a job. I became a doctor instead and enjoy it, it’s also secure with great satisfaction but it’s unrelated to the passions that I have, which I keep firmly as hobbies instead. I think it’s normal and pretty common for people to have work separate from passions, and those that manage to make it the same for both are very lucky.

    • Roxana Altuve

      Hi Lava! Yes! I agree with you 100% in the sense that those people are very lucky, but I also believe we are too, since I think they probably don’t have as many topics to discuss or activities to engage in as we do, and this is precisely because there are various sides of us that cannot be merge together trough just one career path or hobbie. Instead we have the blessing -some may say curse but I think those are crazy people 🙂 – to have multiple things going on in our favor, and most importantly we should feel great about it!

  • Mia

    “I refer to the capacity that lays within all of us to make a difference and to contribute in the community and society we live in. That difference is something we can accomplish by pursuing our calling, because it’s something we know is bigger than ourselves.” – I couldn’t agree more with you! It is also so much more rewarding during the hard times to think that your work may help someone or make their life easier.

    • Roxana Altuve

      Hi Mia! Yes, indeed! I think this speaks to the person inside each of us that wants to feel their life is meaningful, that our presence in this world during this time has meant something, and the only way to feel this way is when we go out of ourselves and exteriorize our talents and gifts to help our surroundings, even if it is in a small way. Just the fact that we are not only giving to ourselves but also to the people around us it’s a great feeling 🙂