Growing up, I was told to find what I love and follow that as my career path. ‘Do what you love for a living’ was a common piece of advice I heard all throughout high school. I bought into the hype then, but when I got into college I quickly learned that ‘do what you love’ is bullshit. Maybe I’m just too pessimistic, maybe I just haven’t found viable options, but I have never felt worse about my passions than when I was pursuing them as a career. The more I got into doing what I loved for a living, the less I wanted to do it, because (in my opinion) there’s nothing worse than having your passion judged by someone else’s standard. When my work falls short, I’m more apt to take it personally because it’s work I love, and am attached to.
There’s also nothing worse than realizing doing what you love isn’t going to pay the bills. For example, I wanted to be a cartoonist. It’s one of those jobs you can take anywhere or do from home. You could travel to different countries and be doing relatively the same thing. More importantly, I love to draw. It’s one of my favorite activities, and I tried to pursue it, but the demand for artists is low and even if I were to get a job most cartoonists don’t make a living wage.
It’s not that I’m opposed to people doing what they love. But somehow, in 2015, it feels like that’s the only option. And the culture, to me, suggests that not pursuing your dreams is the wrong choice. But not all passions are meant to be careers. In fact, I don’t see why I can’t work at a job that isn’t my passion, make a living, and pursue what I love on the side. My relationship with my passions will honestly be less tainted if I’m not scrutinizing every last detail in an office for ten hours per day.
Cartooning isn’t the only case for jobs that don’t make a living wage. There are many jobs you need a college degree for that don’t pay well to start; and it can be challenging to get a job in your field. The job market may be rising, but the need for paying jobs is still a problem. Minimum wage is set at $7.25 for the national standard, and in 2013 the living wage was calculated at $15/hour, but that’s not even for every state.
When I started to pursue my dream as a career, I also found that it killed some of my motivation. I was already drawing all the time, but when I had to do it for someone to judge my work, it was challenging. When you have something you love, it usually doesn’t matter if someone thinks you’re good at it or not. You do it because it makes you feel good, and you don’t have to be paid to get the work done, or have someone’s critique give you some sort of self-worth. It’s the opposite of a job. It’s an escape, a passion, a hobby, and something that makes me feel like I have a purpose, and am making myself happy.
For some, having a job is a means to affording a lifestyle you couldn’t have without that job. It’s what gives you the ability to get by, save up to by a house, support your children, or fund your dream. I think we can get jobs doing things we know we can accomplish, and those jobs will enable us to save for the things we love. Getting a job that can get me on my feet, and give my life financial stability, is a perfectly fine goal, even if it doesn’t involve following my dreams.
In my opinion, being happy in a job doesn’t mean you love it, it means the job caters to your strengths. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pursue something you love, I just don’t think pushing your passion into your career is the only way to go. While the drawing didn’t pan out for me, I tried other jobs in fields I love, and eventually found one that was a balance. My job now gives me a bit of what I love, but also provides a steady paycheck that motivates me to work, leaving me the freedom to draw after work, and follow my dreams outside of my 9-to-5 schedule.
Sacha is an aspiring writer, currently feeling the struggle as she shamelessly promotes herself across the Internet. She is on Twitter.
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