Rant: Day Job vs. Passion

I’ve been going back and forth in my head for a couple of weeks now about this. I’ve been applying for a bunch of jobs and I’ve been tossing back and forth between applying for only what I’m passionate about or applying for jobs that I’d simply be good at. 

Whenever I mention passion to my much-older cousin, she says it’s dangerous to be fixated on mixing your career with passion. Passion implies forever, and our careers don’t necessarily need to be forever. Especially nowadays when people have several different careers during their lifetimes.

I want to find something I’m passionate about doing because whenever I meet people who are passionate about what they do, I feel a tinge of jealousy – I mean, obviously, right? It was always ingrained in me growing up that I should do what I love and what I’m passionate about, but is that not really the way it is? Just because a very small percentage of the population has managed to find a job they absolutely love, does that have to be what we all strive for? Because it’s almost as hard to find as finding your “soulmate.”

Why isn’t it good enough for all of us if we find a job that pays us so we can live our lives and pay the bills and take the occasional vacation? A job that we might happen to be good at, even though it might not be something we’re particularly passionate about doing? 

So, at first I was limiting my job applications to only companies for which I could muster up some degree of passion. Then I realized that those jobs are super few and far between and maybe my cousin was right: just find a job with people that you like (or can at least tolerate), that pays you well, and that you’re good at and, live your life outside the office. 

I went to school for theatre management and took an extra several-month course in commercial producing after graduation. I worked in theatre and the pay was lousy and the hours were even worse. I loved some of the shows I was working on, but even though I loved (and still love) theatre, I knew it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t work in the industry anymore. It was my passion and I could do it outside work. 

Isn’t that generally what passions are anyways? Things you do in your free time? Yes, I’d love to teach yoga full-time, but that path is hard as fuck, and you have to hustle, and I don’t know if I’m cut out for that. 

So, in the meantime, I’m going to try to teach (for $$ or volunteer) yoga on the side and then get a job that I’m good at. I’ll try my best not to work in an industry that I find revolting (again) and be content that maybe I’m not 100% passionate about what I do from 9 to 5 every day. My life outside of work is more important at the end of the day: friends, yoga, meditation, theatre, music. 

And if you make your passion your day job, is it really your passion anymore? Just asking. For a friend. 

Jobs, or something.

When I was taking (by accident) a class called “The Business of Acting” in college, I remember the professor saying, “I know they say life is short, but actually life is fucking long. You will do a ton of different jobs in your life.” She could not have predicted that she would end up as a casting director and a part time college professor when she was studying theatre at Emerson. 

This week I saw my therapist for the first time in about a month and a half. We’d had some scheduling conflicts and then I went away and now I’m back, so I emailed him and I finally made it to his office. 

We talked about the main issues I have and finally after we were done sorting that shit out, he said, “So what’s your main concern at this time?” and after I told him, he said, “This is just my opinion and I’m not trying to force this on you, but I think we should look into you being a little more ambitious career-wise.“ My first thought was, “Why do I have to have a career? Can’t I just have a job that supports my life?”

He said that he saw that I was so concerned with finding a job that I didn’t feel like I was constantly going to be let go from that I didn’t actually care what the job was. This was, in part, right. I like my job a lot right now – I’m learning a lot and there’s a lot of work to do so I’m not bored. And my boss is really nice. He’s such a pleasure to work for.

At Job A, I liked the work – I was good at it. I had a really good groove going. But I got to the office at 8am and left around 6 or 7pm. I was really burnt out. And I was making next to no money. But hey, that’s show business.

So, I left that job when I was offered Job B doing something completely different (though still numbers oriented) though I was stupid and desperate and took it at the same salary. Hey, I got a ton of comp tickets and the company was pretty fun to work for. It ended up not being a good fit for me, or the company, though so I was laid off and immediately started Job C. 

Job C was great – it was a fun company, I was good at the job (basically the same job as at Job A), and I was actually contributing to the business in meaningful ways through the HR side of things. I also got a $10k raise. This was nice. I got to learn the HR side of things and that was awesome. I really liked that. However I saw the company’s books all the time and things were ehhhh business-wise. They tried to keep up morale but I didn’t think things were going very well. I was also bored. Because we didn’t have a ton of business, I didn’t have a ton of work. I was so, so bored.

So when a recruiter contact me on LinkedIn and I had two phone interviews and one in-person interview for Job D (which was more or less the same as Job’s A and B), and they were offering yet another $10k raise, I said yes. It was really, really hard to leave Job C but I did. I’m at Job D now and really liking it. As I said, my boss is really great and my colleagues are all really nice. They are always signing new clients, which means more work for me, which is awesome. No boredom, score!

But there’s always that twinge of “am I going to be able to keep this job?” My therapist told me that I do not have qualities of someone who should have these fears as I am extremely diligent and have no problem finding jobs. So, yes, he’s probably right about me needing to figure out what I want to do. 

Luckily for me, my boyfriend is really good at career planning and being goal-oriented so I’m making some lists on my own and then we’re diving head first this weekend in trying to figure out what would make me happy. Money doesn’t make me fully happy. My last two raises have been great, but money isn’t everything. I’ve never been close to poverty (I sound like an asshole saying that but it’s better than pretending otherwise) so maybe I take it for granted. I see people at jobs they hate making tons of money and I just don’t think it’s worth it. When is the paycheck ever going to be big enough for you? If money is all you strive for, you’re going to be endlessly striving for more and then what? Money is nice, but happiness, overall, is nicer.

You know what makes me fully happy? Meditating. And leading meditations. I’m going to look into studying with an actual teacher. And I’m going to give yoga teacher training an actual thought. I never thought I was the right personality for it, but I’ve had some teachers over the years who are a lot like me, so maybe I’m wrong. What would also make me happier would be brushing up on my accounting and Quickbooks skills. I put out an email about that yesterday.

Fingers crossed I can eventually figure it out. 

And fittingly enough, there’s a perfect John Lennon quote for this: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

This Valentine’s Day I did yoga, went grocery shopping, got a pedicure, took a bath, and cooked. It was pretty great.  The day after I went to a post-Valentine’s Day kundalini yoga and meditation workshop at PureHouse in Brooklyn. I’d met the founder, Anne, of TAPIN last April at her “Own Happy” installation that a former colleague was working with her on. She’s totally creative and open and awesome.  

I know, I know. Just pass the granola.

Anyways, it was about 20 of us and we started with a short meditation, then a physical kriya, then much more meditation, and finally some journaling and pouring our hearts out about what we’d like to manifest in the relationships in our life.

After that awesomeness we were all starving and lunch was being made by Jaquy and her partner at Tasty Freedom. Jaquy has dairy and gluten allergies so her food is all gluten and dairy free. I saw so many vegetables that I was expecting to be pretty hungry afterwards. 

Nope. I was so stuffed. Maybe too stuffed. There were baked squash and broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes, baked tofu and mushrooms, beet strings, kale salad, and pickled ginger. It sounds so hippy but it was all SO good. For dessert they had “ice dream” which was dairy (and soy) free ice cream made out of banana, vanilla, ginger, maple syrup, etc. So, so good. 

Afterward we all friended each other on Facebook, duh. I’m quite glad I trekked an hour out to Brooklyn and made some new connections. An perfect way to spend the day after Valentine’s Day. 

“One of the biggest surprises of the happiness project was just how hard it was to know myself.”

I finished reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, this weekend and I have to say that I liked it a lot. It wasn’t all Pollyanna-And-Life-Is-Wonderful. She had resolutions to keep each month that she thought would help her be happier and be more presently appreciating her already-happy life more than she had been. She also had a lot of statistics and scientific data from the plethora of research she did before and during her project.

Before she planned out her monthly resolutions, she made a list of her 12 commandments, one of which was “Be Gretchen,” and stop trying to be someone she wasn’t (and to stop trying to force herself to like things that she wished she liked). This made me think about if I was “being Allison” often enough.

I often feel bad that I don’t like going to museums and viewing art and paintings more. I think I should. But I don’t – I mean, sometimes I do, but more often than not, museums bore the hell out of me. I used to feign interest in football when I had friends who spent every Sunday in bars watching the games, but I gave that up after my bar-going days had ceased. Everyone is telling me to watch “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad” but after watching an episode of each (or half an episode), I was bored by both. A vast majority of TV shows just don’t do it for me.

So what does make me happy? Theatre. Going to the occasional movie. Cooking. Organizing my apartment (yup). Reading. Long walks around New York. Yoga. Running. Coffee shops. Writing. Concerts. Guitar. Music. Eating out. Making smoothies. Tea. Green Day. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. Weezer. John Lennon. The Beatles. Strawberry Fields. Blueberry bagels. Farmer’s markets. My friends.

I’m sure there are a host of other things too, but those are the ones that come to mind first, so I’m assuming those are the most important. So, as much as I wish I loved art, and museums, and popular TV shows, and see popular movies, but I don’t. 

And that’s OK. It’s OK to “be Allison.”