Is the narrative of doing what you love in your professional life something we should strive for at all costs or just a modern utopia?

just came across a fantastic text by Mark Manson (author of one of my all-time favorite books, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k‘) In short, Mark emphasizes in the text on his website

Who says you have to earn money from what you love to do?! Let’s normalize the idea that it’s possible to have a 9 to 5 job that isn’t directly related to your passion, yet still pays the bills and allows you the opportunity to do what you love in your free time.

You can find Mark’s original text by clicking on the image.

This led me to an “AHA” moment.

Do what you love at all costs?!

The idea of ​​following your dreams is not inherently wrong. On the contrary. The entire ‘movement’ behind the idea that you shouldn’t spend your whole life ‘surviving’ and being unhappy with the job you’re in, but rather to take action to be happier, is great.”

But like any good idea, this one has changed its original shape and grown into a monster that attacks us from all sides of popular culture and screams at us: “how do you mean you’re not making millions doing what you love most in the world, and with a constant smile on your face? What’s wrong with you, so many have succeeded…”

In an ideal world or at least in that imaginary one full of Instagram gurus and successful dreamers, “do what you love” is an imperative from which there seems to be no deviation.

But is it really?

Hats off to people who have managed to combine their “dreams” with reality and make a living from them.

But by the same measure, hats off to all those whose reality does not reflect this imposed ideal.

Day job vs. dream job

Yes, I love writing more than anything in the world.

But no, writing doesn’t have to pay my bills.

The fact that my writing is not conditioned and burdened by putting bread on the table, it is free and can live and breathe freely.

Because there’s something liberating about doing what you love not necessarily being about “earning” from what you love.

Let’s normalize the idea that it’s perfectly okay to have a 9 to 5 job that doesn’t have much to do with your dreams but on the other hand allows other qualities to come to the fore.

Yes, I work from 9 to 5 in the IT sector, in an office job, even though I’m a creative soul. And I’m not the only one!

But it has allowed me to write what I love, what I feel, without worrying and fearing whether it will bring me likes or clicks, or enough money to comfortably live off of just writing.

Writing for the sake of writing and enjoyment, writing that is free and unconditional.

You are your job?!

I am the first advocate that everyone in life should do exactly what suits them and brings some kind of satisfaction – be it in money, a good work environment, the work itself, or something else. And of course, it’s not possible to find all of that in every job.

But what if in the “day job” besides financial satisfaction, we find a new, different part of ourselves? A part that was lurking in the dark, suppressed by the ideal of a “creative life”? And why wouldn’t we integrate those two parts of ourselves, without guilt or feelings of worthlessness?

Because we are not our job or job title! Yet very often we are reduced to just that.

Just think, when you meet someone, they will surely ask you at some point what you do or what you’re engaged in. And your answer will most certainly be your job title or university degree.

And that’s how we socially define ourselves, “I am my job.”

But we’re not!

We are much more than that.

Yes, it is possible for me to be a writer, a mother, a bibliophile, a feminist, a wife, and an IT consultant. I am all of that. And each of those roles brings out certain qualities and skills in me.

And so I refuse to define myself as just one thing, and I refuse to accept the idea of an ‘ideal’ anything, in this case – a job.

Besides being a creative soul and loving to write and read more than anything else in the world, I also love new technologies and enjoy teaching people something they didn’t know before, showing them an easier and more efficient way to do something, and I generally love helping people.

And there you have it, in the job I currently do, those qualities of mine have come to the fore.

And even though I didn’t ‘dream’ about this job, I’ve been doing it with a smile on my face for over a year now.

Do what you love

I write because I love it, not because I have to!

As for writing specifically, throughout history, it has been shown multiple times that many authors already had the conditions for a normal life secured or had other jobs, and wrote in their free time. And this idea really inspires and relieves me of pressure.

The idea of a writer (artist), who, although hungry, always puts their creative work ahead of existential needs, is ultimately just a romantic idea.

The reality is far different. No one can be creative on an empty stomach, or if they don’t have a roof over their head and are freezing.

Virginia Woolf, who changed the way this whole issue is perceived, said in one of the most significant literary works in the 19th century:

“Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. […] And when each of us has five hundred [pounds] a year and a room to ourselves; when we are accustomed to freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think” (Woolf Virginia, “A Room of One’s Own“)

I, too, was long deceived by the notion that my worth lies in ‘how successful I am in what I do, what I’ve always wanted to do. And of course, I didn’t feel good.

I actively worked on making it happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. And of course, because of that, I have seriously doubted myself, my creativity, and my abilities.

And then I discovered that I’m not alone and that it’s completely okay to have a day job that you enjoy, but that has no direct connection to what you’ve “always wanted to do”.

On one hand, hey, I’m only 30 something. (No, not everything has to happen to you in life by the age of 30!)

On the other hand, if something hasn’t happened now, it doesn’t mean it never will.

And even if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay too.

Does that mean I should give up on writing?

No, I’m not for killing dreams or for corporate exploitation, but I am for breaking illusions!

Only when I freed myself and my writing from that kind of pressure – that it must succeed and that one must make a living from it – did I start to break free from the chains I had imposed on myself.

Because everything that must happen, carries a certain burden and loses its initial magic.

You’re not less of a creative, writer, artist, if you earn your bread in some other way.

What Elizabeth Gilbert also emphasizes in her brilliant book about creativity and writing:

“He didn’t quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his everyday life.” Elisabeth Gilbert “Big Magic”(2015. S. 82)

Fight for your dreams, always.

But don’t let your life pass by regretting not living them the way others expect you to.