Monday, March 10, 2014

Can You (Really) Do What You Love?

I've seen lots of buzz in the past week about this Do What You Love post from blogger A Pair & a Spare. After reading it, I was all gung-ho, "Oh, yeah, I need to figure out what I love so I can DO it!" And then I faltered. What DO I love? What am I passionate about? Over dinner Saturday night, I posed the question to Curtis after briefly describing the point of the post. He totally scoffed at the notion and said, "You do a job that pays the bill. What you love can be your hobby."  Then he went on this mini-tirade I've heard a lot lately about how Sean better not try to major in a pointless subject college like journalism, psychology, advertising, religious studies, etc. (no offense, these were our concentrations). According to Curtis, Sean will major in something he can tolerate, and even like, but it must be practical first and foremost.

This rant didn't exactly answer my original question, so I redirected his attention, "But what do I love?" We determined over pizza and beers that I love eating, writing, sleeping, reading, and being lazy, not really interests that are high on the pay scale, right? My husband is always pragmatic, but it was really discouraging to hear "No, Katie. You can't do what you love." This is a sore point for me every year around this time. I am mentally and physically exhausted; Spring Break is on the horizon; I feel discouraged and run over by uninterested students and unsupportive parents. I think to myself- "Can I realistically do this for another 20 years?" I hated high school when I was in high school- what was I thinking picking a job that would require me to go back to high school EVERY SINGLE DAY?!?!? Do I love teaching? Is teaching my passion?

In the original post the author says to find your passion it can help to ask yourself- "What's in my DNA? What have I enjoyed doing since the beginning of time?" According to my school days diary, for the majority of my elementary school years, I wanted to be either an "artiste", a "teachr", a "writr:, or a "modele". So I gave myself lots of options at least. But the only one that's realistic is teaching. I mean, I love writing, and I write for fun, but that's not a realistic full-time job for me.  So is it possible to realistically do what you love for a living? Does it make me a terrible person to admit that while I like teaching, I don't think it's my lifelong passion? Is this just totally typical, and I'm making a big deal out of nothing?

So do you do what you love? And since this is such a heavy topic, I thought I'd lighten things up by sharing a pic of Lulu sleeping on my shoulder. She's such a sweetie!


Katie Frost said...

I feel like the focus on having a job that you love and fulfills you is a fairly-unique-to-Americans issue. We in general focus our attention on a person's job -- when we meet someone new oftentimes we ask "what do you do for a living?" as a sort of icebreaker. I think a job can and should be something that you enjoy, but it most definitely doesn't need to be your life's focus or fulfillment. I love my job and coworkers, but at the end of the day it is just a paycheck that allows me to do the things I'm passionate about in my free time. Soo...I suppose I agree with your husband!

Katie Frost said...

I never would have thought of myself as a secretary (today's term for church is Ministry Assistant). But I do feel I am where God wants me... Do I love it every day- No! But I feel blessed to be there and hope I am ministering to those who come through the doors. What do I love? Genealogy, archeology, all that kind of stuff---could I make a living at that, probably not! You and teaching- I feel you are where God wants you. Do you always love it, no. But you are good at it and I think you are making a difference in a lot of young lives. We cannot all say we have that impact in our jobs!

Katie Frost said...

My job is paying my bills. I'm lucky enough that they're relatively flexible with my schedule but I graduated with an English degree and my work is more geared toward accounting. I love to read and might love teaching literature but don't know if I want to jump into more schooling at this point. I'd benefit more from real-life experience. My plan is to stay with my current job while I feel out for what I love. It's a secure job that allows me to search for my passion. Look at teaching like that: a steady paycheck that lets you search for what you love.

Katie Frost said...

Katie, I love your writing and little typos :) I believe you could write for a living on a subject that interests you....Write a children's book about a boy and his dog. Yes, it has been done before but I think you could give it an interesting twist. I am 54 and have always worked doing something that, in my opinion, doesn't make a difference. I have a college degree and continue to pay my student loans but can not find a job in my area, Human Resources because A. they want years of experience, not life experience and B. there just aren't that many jobs. So I continue to plug away and look for something good about my current job, everyday, and hope that my dream job will find it's way to me. I tell everyone that I would like to "teach" at an alternative school, one for teens and young adults that are not on the college track. Help them with there resume, appearance and job interview skills as well as informing them about benefits and what that could mean to their bottom line, how to job search, what rights they have as an employee and what rights the employer has.... just to know I am making a difference in peoples lives, I feel, would give me so much more happiness. Good luck and in my opinion you must be an awesome teacher because you are such an insightful young woman.

Katie Frost said...

Katie, I had this long response written for you and accidentally deleted it. You CAN do what you love. You really can. I do. I love working at the hotel. My goal is to open my own bed and breakfast, but this is fine for now. IT pays my bills and I can shop a bit and have a little fun., Maybe I can't take two week vacays to Disney, but we do well. My Husband definitely makes more money, but I am very happy at my job. The only things that would make me happier would be 1. No uniforms, and 2. A raise! Would it be so bad for Sean to choose a job that he loves as long as he makes enough and is happy? What about you? Wouldn't you love to wake up everyday eager and excited to get to work. There is so much you can do, and if there isn't a job that appeals to you, create one for yourself!

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." -Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy


Katie Frost said...

Oh man, this topic… it has been heavy on my mind lately. I think unless your parents give you a big fat trust fund, it is super hard to find your "passion"… when is there ever an opportunity to try things for yourself without the fear of failing (& thus missing a pay check)? Unfortunately money makes the world go round. I think that I have actually found my passion through teaching… further proof that we are all different!


Enter my current giveaways!

Katie Frost said...

I love the weather! And hopefully, one day soon-ish, I can fulfill my dream!

Katie Frost said...

I think doing "what you love" is often only for the most gifted or privileged. Making people feel like failures for doing what they like, or even what they can simply tolerate is tone deaf, smacks of classism, and is just unhelpful. Do you think the person picking up your garbage or fixing your computer or filling in potholes LOVES that job? They might find satisfaction in a job well done or providing for themselves or for doing something that's necessary, but I doubt it was their lifelong dream. And that's perfectly okay. I agree with the commenter who said this is a very American outlook.

I spent a long time in college collecting advanced degrees while looking for my passion. Guess what? I like a lot of things, I was more than competent at everything I tried, and mostly now I know what I hate to do instead of what I love. I do a job that offers a lot of personal fulfillment, and meets some of the minimum requirements I felt I needed to be happy at work, but I also expect I'll be just as happy when I retire and can volunteer at an animal shelter or stay home in my jammies reading books if the mood strikes.

I think what's more important is being open to and accepting happiness wherever you find it, whether that's by doing for others, enjoying the world around you, or finding peace in quiet moments alone.

Katie Frost said...

I believe in following my dreams and part of that has definitely been finding what I love and doing it. Funny thing is, when you do what you love as work, it pretty much turns into work. Meaning suddenly there are aspects and elements of a 'job' like people you might not like or situations that are stressful. Such is the nature of work.

Still, I read somewhere recently

Katie Frost said...

I'm 50, so perhaps coming at this from a different perspective, but in my opinion there's nothing that will set you up for failure as quickly as pursuing a career that you don't love.

However, I don't think you have to LOVE every single job you have. We all take steps to get where we want to go. The younger you are, the more choices there are, the more paths you can pursue, because honestly I don't think we all know what kind of job we'll love just automatically. Sometimes it takes some experience doing things we enjoy and things we don't in order to figure it out.

My husband and I both teach at a community college. During our college years we both found we really enjoyed teaching --he found it out while working as a math tutor at his college's tutoring center, and I found it out during graduate school, when I found I much preferred being a Teaching Assistant over doing my research (I"m a geologist). He tried out high school teaching, but found it stressful, probably for the same reasons you do. He went back and got his Masters so he could apply for college teaching jobs. For me, teaching at a community college has been a job I love doing --all the fun of teaching, but no one sitting in your classroom because they have to (after all, they're paying for the class!), and no research stress. I don't imagine I'll retire until I'm ancient --I really love all the parts of my job.

There are also probably plenty of people who are willing to do a job they don't care for in order to fund a hobby they love --but that is still figuring out what you love and pursuing it. If you're not spending most of your life pursuing and doing what you love, then why are you living?

Sorry for the long post, but it seems to me that it's always worth reflecting on what you love and how you can make that the focus of your life. Perhaps your dissatisfaction with your current teaching job doesn't mean you don't love teaching --perhaps there is another subject, place, or situation, in which teaching would be a career you love. And of course we all need breaks --especially from jobs where we are using so much energy to help others (especially when they are not particularly grateful for that outlay of energy!). Hopefully you can recharge a bit in spring break, but reflecting on what you love and how you can make sure it's in your life is a very worthwhile task!

Katie Frost said...

Out of curiosity what does your husband consider to be a practical job? You cold definitely write for a living; you're so close to doing it professionally anyways. Good luck!

Katie Frost said...

I'm a teacher and I totally get where you're coming from. Growing up, I only ever wanted to be a teacher; it was literally the only career that interested me. Now, a few years into it, I'm reconsidering it long-term, at least full-time. I've also found that most teachers my age (even those who got into it "for life" like I did) are feeling the same way. The fact is, we live in a different age (and I'm only 24!) but kids today don't take responsibility or respect authority the way they used to, and it's because their parents don't require them to. I hear you- disinterested students and unsupportive parents are the rule and no longer the exception. It's sad and has had me definitely looking to other options in the long run. I hate that, because I love teaching and I love my students, but with the culture of education today our (teachers) hands are tied in a lot of ways.

Katie Frost said...

I listened to my a-hole engineer father tell me I would never make a living doing what I loved (singing, acting, writing), that I needed something "practical" blah blah blah. Now I'm almost 40 and I still don't know what I want to be and I don't make all that much money, either. I wish I'd told him to STFU and gotten the music degree I wanted instead of the stupid "fine I'll choose major #4" degree. I think you owe it to yourself to try and not listen to the naysayers. What I really wish I'd known: you don't have to pick what you want to be for your whole life when you're 18. That it's ok to fail at something, because then you'll be happier when you find something at which you can succeed.

I don't think it's ok to fail at this point in my life. I'm probably wrong. I'm trying to get over that.

Also -- based on a lot of my friends -- your major doesn't mean crap. Psych major works as a financial coordinator. Art major works for a legal publishing company. Etc.

Katie Frost said...

I feel I should offer a slight clarification on my statement. I say that it is highly unlikely that you can do something you love and make a comfortable living doing it. My brother has a music degree. He's good at music. He loves it. And he works in a casket factory. He explores music on the side as a hobby, and maybe one day he'll make it. I hope so. My degree is in advertising and marketing. I love to create. I love to talk about things I see and hear, but I end up stuck in sales. If I could go back to my 16 year old self, I would tell that guy to go into pharmacy or accounting. Nobody needs a degree to do what I do, just a little common sense and the ability to talk to people they don't know. I want my son to be in a job that allows him to pay his bills and have a little left over. Hopefully it also lets him leave his work at the door when he gets home, leaving time to explore whatever it is he loves (which right now is making playsets throughout our house based on video games). For those that truly love what they do, I'm all for it. Congrats! But practically, I would give up any degree of enjoyment in my work as long as it supports my wife and son financially and leaves me alone after 5pm. "The Fear," as Friends put it, is all well and good until you've got a house payment and a child (at least for me).

Katie Frost said...

Great, thought-provoking post. While I agree that we should focus on pursuing those things that give us happiness, at the same time I can see that it might be unrealistic to want a passion to lead to a successful career. Cooking, crafting, blogging, and reading are constant sources of happiness for me ... but I don't think I possess any special skills in these areas that would make a full-time career a viable option.
One of my passions is librarianship - and I hope that I'll land that elusive school librarian job sometime soon. It's something I truly enjoy, but I know it will have its ups and downs. I guess for me I try to think about the costs vs. the benefits - if my day ends with the balance slightly on the benefits side, it's a good day for me. This is not to say that the costs don't matter in the long run - I hear ya on the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with teaching. We teachers are asked on a daily basis to give so much of ourselves! I don't know about your state, but here we are being asked to do all kinds of things (evaluations, data analysis, etc) and we feel even more overwhelmed than usual. I've realized that working harder does not make me happier (gosh, I feel a little guilty just typing that). I'm still doing the best I can, but I've given myself permission to have more balance in my life - like attending my Monday night martial arts class instead of planning lessons and grading papers and a looong nap on Saturday to recharge.
Anyhow, very long comment to say, hang in there, Katie! Spring Break will be here soon. :)

Katie Frost said...

I've enjoyed reading the responses, so many different perspectives! From what I have learned in my 15 years working after college is that it is a rare blessing to have a job doing what you love. Personally, I think you can always "do what you love" but you may not get paid for it! I would love to be a SAHM, but there is no way I could do that and not sacrifice my, and my daughter's, quality of life to an excessive amount.

I am fortunate to have a job that I enjoy that allows me to have a quality of life I enjoy and that does not interfere with the things in life that I do love, my family, my hobbies, and free time.

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