Essays & Confessions

Just So You Know, You Don’t Have To Be Passionate About Your Job

By | Monday, May 09, 2016


There’s this rumor going around that we’re supposed to love our jobs, and we’re supposed to “follow our passion” and find a job that makes our “heart sing” and our “soul come alive.”

I’m calling bullshit.

Sure, it’s great to love what you do, and I firmly believe that you shouldn’t stay at a job that you hate. But like it or not, most of us are working jobs that we’re not 100% thrilled about; jobs that maybe pay the bills, but don’t rank high on the passion scorecard. Some of us are exploring our options. Some of us are paying our dues. Some of us are just stuck.

Because of this BS rumor, it’s not enough to just have a job anymore. Now we have to be in love with our jobs. We have to follow our passion. And if our job is not our passion? Well, then we’re obviously settling. And there is nothing more depressing than the idea of settling at 25 years old.

When did this whole obsession with passion start, anyway? I don’t think my great grandmother was out working in the field thinking about her passion. She just did what she had to do. For years, decades, all of eternity actually, people just did what they had to do in order to make the money they needed to survive. They provided for their families. They had a job. They came home from said job, and then they pursued their passions.

That’s when they cooked, or wrote, or developed carpentry skills. Outside of the office! Off the clock! There wasn’t this societal pressure to fold your passion into your 9-to-5. A career was just a paycheck. Your job was just a job. It didn’t have anything to do with your so-called passion, or soul work, or creative intuition. But now there’s this whole manifesto about “Not Settling,” and “Finding What You Love,” and how your “Work Should Be Your Calling,” and blah blah blah. I get it. Getting paid to do something you love is the ideal scenario. But we shouldn’t feel guilty if it’s not our current reality.

There’s no shame in working a job simply because it pays the bills. You are not less of an artist, an entrepreneur, or an innovator because you have a day job.

Maybe your passion doesn’t need to be your career. Maybe it just needs to make you feel alive. Could it be that by forcing two independent things to become dependent on one another, we’re actually losing out on what makes them special? Maybe your passion doesn’t need the pressure to provide an income. Maybe that’s the point of a passion: it’s optional. It’s the thing you do regardless of your job, not the thing you do to support yourself. And maybe a job isn’t supposed to be the great calling of your soul. Maybe it exists to simply support your passion, not to become it. It’s a means to an end, not the end itself.

Personally, I don’t want to demand so much from my passion. I want it to fill me up on its own, just because I love it, just because it can. If I can make a profit off it, that’s great. If not, I’m still going to do it anyway, simply because it’s what I love to do. Because it’s my passion and not my job.

I want to spend less time worrying about whether or not our jobs live up to society’s standards, and more time actually doing the things that make me happy outside of work. And I don’t think I need to berate myself if I don’t love my job every second of every day. Find something that you love and do it simply because you want to. Go for a hike, pick up a book, volunteer, go star-gazing, hang out at an animal shelter, or make art that makes you feel alive. Just do it because you want to do it. No paycheck or 401k required.

We are all dimensional beings with multiple facets, and one thing does not have to equal everything. There’s room for passions and there’s room for jobs in our lives. You can have both. You should have both. In my opinion, that’s what makes for a fulfilling life.

Let’s take the pressure off and cut ourselves some slack. There’s no reason to feel guilty about what your job does or does not offer. Your job is your own, your passion is your own, your life is your own. You get to decide what they look like. You get to decide what works best for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

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Jillian wants to live in a world where the coffee is bottomless and the sweatpants are mandatory. As a professional writer, she enjoys crafting copy that cuts through the bullshit of the everyday media. When she’s not being a word wizard, Jillian can be found hiking the trails with her husband and her slightly neurotic German Shepherd named Penny. To learn more about her work- and her love of sweatpants, visit her online at

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