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When we were little, we all had dream jobs: astronaut, professional athlete, pilot; you know, something that was really cool and that they made movies about. Unless you were brought up in a Jewish household, and then you were going to be a doctor, lawyer, or something dealing in money. (True story: my Jewish grandparents have 4 kids – a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, and an actuary; I can’t make this shit up). I mean, think about it: how awesome would it be to do what you love? As the old adage goes, “What would you do if you had a million dollars? That should be your career. PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that mean?”
While “two chicks at the same time” is probably one of the best answers to any question ever asked, if we were all being serious with ourselves, our answer would probably be closer to Peter than to Lawrence. The amount of mornings that I wake up and think about doing nothing is about the same number of mornings that I wake up and hope Tom Brady will have a deep threat next season. To have the freedom to wake up, go to the gym without being pressured by time or Spring Breakers, eat an actual breakfast with even maybe eggs and toast, watch an hour of Mike and Mike, and then finally get around to shower is literally a pipe dream, but what most of us truly want. My mornings actually involve waking up while it’s still pitch black outside, getting a half-assed workout while avoiding old men, overweight moms and powerlifters, brushing my teeth and shaving while in the shower, microwaving old coffee and grabbing an apple and (maybe) a Clif Bar, and then biking to work while the sun still hasn’t come up yet. Unless you’re a psychopath who doesn’t shower in the morning or something like that, nobody enjoys these morning. And judging by the majority of columns and readers on this site, we all have more than our fair share of these mornings.
But at least we like our jobs, right? LOL. We all work too hard, get paid too little, and do things that we hate. Today, I had to give up my computer so one of my coworkers, who has continually failed to install a program properly on his computer, could use my computer. My computer. MY COMPUTER! The appropriate response to this complaint would be something along the lines of, “well, why don’t you just do something that you love?” And I’ve thought about this a lot. Why don’t I leave engineering, something that I’m decently good at but don’t love, and do something that I’m actually passionate about?
Outside of work, I have one thing that I’m passionate about AND actually pretty decent at: running (I know I’m gonna get #judged for this, but I just gotta be honest). I’ve had enough success in recent races that a local running store has actually decided to sponsor me and give me free running shoes and apparel. And every time I find myself really hating work but enjoying running, I ask myself: what if I just quit work and tried to devote all my resources to running? Outside of the obvious problem that I’m 100% not good enough to support myself completely from running, I simply would not want to do that. I would not want to be constrained to making a living by doing something that I love. The quickest way to start hating something is to be forced to it.
When I was little, and then all the way up through high school, I used to love swimming. For fun, for exercise, it didn’t matter: I loved it. And then during my senior year, I broke my femur during wrestling practice. This meant no weight bearing for a month and a half post-surgery and no running for three months. Having already committed to playing college soccer, I had to find some way to keep myself in shape. The doctor gave me the answer: swimming. At first, I was delighted; I was able to do something that I enjoyed doing, and my parents couldn’t stop me. But as the weeks and months dragged on, swimming became less and less enjoyable, and now, eight years later, I abhore swimming. It sucks. I suck at it. I don’t even enjoy swimming for fun.
None of us want to begin hating something that used to be a passion. The number of college athletes who flat-out stop playing sports after college is so high because they spent so many hours being forced to play it that it no longer stirs that passion in them. I no longer have any sort of passion for swimming, and I don’t want that to happen to running, or anything else that I enjoy. Sure, working in something that I love would be great, but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t really love it for all that long. And I think that this is a fundamental problem that so many millennials face: we do, in fact, have passions, but we either a) can’t find work in them, or b) don’t want to ruin these passions.
Think about what the beginning of college was like: you could pick whatever major you wanted, whatever tickled your fancy. And the majority of us picked something that we thought we would enjoy: psychology, business, literature, sociology. By the time we graduated though, how much did you love taking those classes? I can’t answer for you, but I really did not like my junior and senior level physics classes. I had been forced to take them for 3 or 4 years, and I just no longer had the desire to excel that I used to.
If there’s any sort of takeaway from this rant, it’s a fairly simple suggestion to my younger self: don’t do something that you love, do something that you can tolerate. You’re not gonna love something after working on it for 40 years. Sure, there may be some good times, but leave the things that you love for things that you can choose to do. If I don’t want to run, I don’t have to. I’m content to sit in a job that I can tolerate until 65 hits and will then never have to lend a coworker a computer ever again..
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