So is Doing What You Love Bad or Not?

It’s been a few weeks since my layoff. Which means it’s only fitting to discuss that fantabulous full-time job… as a career-seeker. Theoretically, this is easy for us writers. Writing is our oxygen and blood. It’s how we interact with the world, therefore we must have lots of ideas piled up and ready to flow out. Once we stop being “lazy” and actually get published, anyway. Then we’ll finally get paid for doing what we love. Bonus!

In my job hunting, I’ve stumbled across a number of insightful websites about finding work in our weakened economy. One post in particular jumped out at me, from the Brazen Careerist:

“If you tell yourself that your job has to be something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid, you’ll be looking for a long time. Maybe forever. So why set that standard? The reward for doing a job is contributing to something larger than you are, participating in society, and being valued in the form of money.”

The title of the post quoted from above, “Bad career advice: Do what you love,” is what hooked me. What’s so wrong about wanting a happy, enjoyable career? Thankfully, I discovered an interesting take on the subject.

Hobbyist Of All, Master Of…?

Due to human complexity, it’s impossible to love any one thing. I get that. I have a myriad of hobbies and interests like anyone. They’re like weeds, growing exponentially every day. I don’t have time to tame them all. Although as a writer, it’s easy to think of ways in which to incorporate several. Still, life as a writer does not lack challenges. There’s no guaranteed money starting out, at least not in my subfield (fiction). That thought always lingers in the back of my mind. In fact, after my freshman year at university, I even moved writing to the back-burner to test out other options. Of course, I had no idea what else I could focus my life on, because nothing else motivated me to wake up every day and think: “Yeah, this is what I do. This is who I am.”

Long story short, I circled back to square one—still appetent to write, still trying to find my place. I soon became aware that my “problem” most likely arose with my first job at an amusement park. During orientation, one of the managers told us that “if a job stops being fun for you, move on.” It made sense, so I adopted the mantra. After all, who wants a job that leads no where and makes you miserable? But it’s hard to maintain that mantra when student debts linger and the economy is rotting.

Putting Creativity To Use

The question then becomes, how do you find a job that fits the only thing you can see yourself succeeding at? Penelope Trunk answers:

“Do not what you love; do what you are.”

Okay… so what am I? Putting aside a giant philosophical debate, I doubt any job fully answers that for me. I may be lucky enough to find work, and if I’m luckier, I’ll enjoy that work. But at the end of the day, “what am I?” can only be answered with “an artist.” It’s an avoidable, major aspect of who I am. It’s how I define myself and how I view the world. No job can change that.

The Heart of Career Advice

Regardless, we all need that regular paycheque. Trunk advises, “Take a job. Any job… just do something that caters to your strengths. Do anything.”

Ahhh, finally: the heart of career advice. It also sounds adventurous. Do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g? So then “what am I?” seems less daunting. As an artist, my ultimate goal is chasing a constant quest for knowledge and improvement. Learning never ends, and creativity reigns. I’m strong-willed and open-minded. I can tackle any challenge thrust my way.

With that as a guide and motivator, tread on, fellow job-seekers! If anyone’s struggling to figure out who they are, leave a comment. We’ll figure it out together.

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