Don’t be a Lemming
April 16, 2007
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
We’ve all heard that quote at least once, usually uttered by some artistic type or someone who has been extraordinarily successful in their chosen field. Most of us disregard it as mindless Chicken Soup for the Soul drivel that just doesn’t apply to us. After all, everyone has a hobby or something they love to do outside of their job – but those things don’t make them money.
Much of the time, schools drive the idea that we have to follow the rules – get good grades and you’ll get into a good college so you can get a good job with a good company. Creativity and alternative paths have been largely ignored in an effort to satisfy the PC police and make sure no one’s self-esteem is wounded. You can be anything you want to be – within reason.
“Very, very few people ever succeed as a writer. Why don’t you go to law school? That’s a nice stable career.” You could replace the words “writer” and “law” with a host of others, including “artist” or “musician” and “medical” or “engineering”. Beyond cheesy motivational books, there’s not a whole lot out there encouraging people to follow their dreams.
Think about it – why would you want to spend 40 plus hours a week doing something boring, or worse, something you hate? It’s a simple fact that, as an adult, you will spend the majority of your waking hours at your job. It only goes to follow that you’ll be a happier person if it’s something you’re passionate about.
Of course there will always be naysayers who insist that the key to happiness is a stable but mentally unrewarding career. And for some people, they could be right. But it’s also possible they are just trying to justify their own failures. After all, it’s easier to rationalize your disappointments than to realize your dreams.
It’s obvious that this is all just my roundabout justification for eschewing the 9-5 lifestyle and the cash that comes with it. I was a voracious reader and writer as a kid (the imaginary worlds I dreamt up could rival Narnia with their intricacy) but then I drank society’s Kool-Aid.
I certainly didn’t think so at the time, but I was fortunate that my liberal arts degree made me fairly unemployable right out of school. Because I was forced to think outside the box, and I had loads of time in which to do it, I re-discovered my talent for writing and eventually established myself as a freelancer. I still have a lot to learn, but at least I love doing it.
Thoreau said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation, but I refuse to be one of them.