Whenever someone says, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” I cringe. That quilt pillow advice is useless.

I have thought a lot about the passion job. To me, it’s kind of like the passion fish (which I thought was the ultimate fish fishermen strive all their lives to catch, but only turns out to be a 1992 film by John Sayles. Anyway, let’s go with my original, incorrect thought.) The very presence of this concept tortures people to be unsatisfied with their current conditions, because somewhere out there, they believe, is their perfect life.

It’s not that passion jobs aren’t possible, but I just wonder if some of that thinking is kind of like how the movies depict romantic love — extremely idealistic, effortless, and uncomplicated, and where there’s a wind machine. Real life does not function that way. Yes, there are lawyers who quit to become bakers or yoga instructors, but some of them, I would guess, found that although they went to follow their bliss, it didn’t turn out exactly as they hoped. (Making a living as a baker or a yoga teacher in this town is extraordinarily difficult.)

Sometimes, a job is just a job, know what I mean? And that’s not a bad thing. There are activities I do love, but I do them for free and I think I’d find them far less compelling if they became monetized and required. (Politics and other limitations would make it less fun for me.)

Finding the right job can be complicated. Different types of work have worked for me over my lifetime so far. When I was in my twenties, acting was the be-all end-all, a line of work I loved with a religious passion (a requirement b/c how else would you deal with the undercooked parts, long hours of hussle, and no cash?)

There are some people I’ve met who believe that work is something you hate, and they have jobs that they hate, with long hours and simmering resentment of being underappreciated. They will probably stay in those gigs, because they don’t know that life can be different. And to those people, I say, Ay caramba.

Anyway, this Georgetown professor has been getting some PR because he writes about how the concept of the passion job can actually be destructive. He preaches, let the passion follow you, as opposed to chasing it all around town. Interesting idea. Click here for his article.

And I finally, I would like to suggest watching RuPaul’s “You better work.” He was born a poor little black boy in Detroit but wanted to grow up and be a cross-dressing model (I did no special research for this. It’s in the song) and he did it! Not that we have to all achieve such heights, overcome such obstacles. I just mention this more because those are INCREDIBLY difficult circumstances to be born into, so no matter what our work struggles are, it can always be worse.

In closing, sashay, chantay. Chantay, chantay, chantay.

3 Replies to “work”

  1. You made me read up on RuPaul. Born and raised in San Diego, but hated it, so he moved to Hotlanta with his sister. I know that wasn’t your point, but he’s from San Diego!
    I’m mostly working for the health insurance. But I can get my work done and people stay out of my hair, so I deal with it.
    My brother quit carpentry to become a lawyer, and a lawyer friend of mine couldn’t believe it, he would quit lawyering to become a carpenter if he had his druthers. The grass is always greener, unless you’re one of those people who think whatever you’re doing is the best thing ever.

  2. As someone who’s gone from owning a record store to writing about booze, I can tell you that both those things are awesome, but once you’re doing either of them for money, it becomes slightly less awesome. Or even, at times, significantly less awesome. A job is a job, whether it has to do with something you love or not.

    And the “as told to” guy for RuPaul’s autobiography was my roommate junior year of college. Seriously.

  3. What? Look at all this full circle business.. I cannot keep that song out of my head.

    Tony, your post reminds me, I once had a writing gig for a spa magazine that required getting massages like several times a week. From a far, that sounds great. in practice, it wasn’t intellectually stimulating enough, kind of boring, and i sound so ungrateful when I complain about it. Good to do once!

    Gabe, i somehow deleted my comment but I forgot your brother’s career path, and I always think about your cousin! (Tony, her cousin was the founder of Jets to Brazil. i know nothing about music, but do you know them?) It was endlessly fascinating to hear that a rock star went through the same cycles of self-doubt and ambivalence about career.

    Health insurance is an excellent reason to work!

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