A wise man once told me, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This nugget of advice is something I’ve been chewing on for years, and college finally gave me my opportunity to put this gold nugget of advice to the test. The age old predicament of doing a job because you love it or because you can make boat loads of money has perplexed me and many college students for ages, and I came face to face with this issue during this semester when discussing the future with my advisor.
At one point I honestly thought I had everything figured out. Why would you do something when you don’t even like it? But I came to realize life isn’t that simple. Outside influences are around every corner. What your parents want you to do, what people expect of you, and seeing others succeed when you feel inadequate is enough to plant the seed of doubt in any young person. I had a good friend working at an internship in Ohio operating heavy machinery and doing physical labor. He was getting critical job experience and making upwards of $1,500 a week, when I was stuck in small town Union, working a minimum wage job and dreaming of working in the media, which I have a passion for.
Prior to this experience, I had been stuck as a general studies major drifting my way through college trying to make the decision as to whether or not I should do something because it was easy money, or because I love to do it. e worst part of this period was being asked “So what are you going to college for?” which seems to be the default question any adult will ask you, and the most applicable answer to their question being “Nothing.”
My passion for media has always been with me, yet only recently did I think that I could make something of it. I’ve spent extensive amounts of time being enveloped and engrossed in movies, TV, video games and the online world. To the judging eye of those around me, this is all frivolous time wasting meant to distract me from what I should actually be doing, like getting a “real job” as any constructive member of society would do.
What alerted me to the idea that my fervent love for the media could potentially lead to job opportunities and a career was a moment where a teacher stopped me a er a media class to tell me that I had done well on a few papers. I was truly shocked, as I found this much gratification and personal attention hard to come by when in college. We talked for a short while and I learned that there was a major for exactly what I loved to do. I thought being a media major meant being a director or a journalist; however, to my delight there was an entire spectrum of jobs and careers in the field of media.
It was at this time I remembered the age old phrase I’ve heard repeated since childhood. “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I wrestled with this idea for a long while. The problem is, when you make a decision like this, you never see the outcome of that decision until it’s already upon you. I would never know if the grass was greener on the other side until I was already stuck in the pasture.
My final answer came to me in the form a story, as most good answers usually do. I thought back to high school. I remembered a day in class where I asked a teacher who I admired greatly, why he decided to become an English teacher. He explained to me that in the heat of college he was failing almost all of his classes, and was called into the Dean’s once to have a long chat. He explained to his Dean that he hated the classes he was in, and the Dean simply asked, “ en why the hell are you taking them?” My teacher digressed and explained to me, being miserable because of what you do for a living isn’t worth the approval of others or whatever they’re willing to pay you.
I chose to heed the words of those who came before me. It seems everyone faces this problem to some extent and I was no different. Like them, I had no intention of letting money make my life decisions for me, and decided to pursue my passions. Since then, I’ve felt lighter on my feet and the only weight on my shoulders is the weight I’ve placed there. And if there’s one thing that I can say to someone feeling the tension of life’s decisions, it’s that you can’t let other people steer your life in their directions. You have to put both hands on the wheel and make your own course.