There is a saying that if you find a job you love, then you will never work a day in your life. I understand where this passage is coming from and the message that it implies — if you do something you love for a living, then it will hardly feel like work, and that you won’t be weighed down by the pressures and the drudgery of day-to-day toil.
In my experience, that’s not necessarily accurate.
Where I agree with the basic premise of the statement, I disagree with the way it paints too rosy a picture of how it is to actually work your ‘dream’ job. Having worked as a photographer full-time for a couple of years now, my love for my craft has carried me through a lot of difficult days and has pushed me past doubt and uncertainty more times than I care to count.
Does it feel like work?
If by work, you mean the exertion of both physical and mental effort to achieve one’s purpose, then yes. It not feels like but is actually a lot of work.
Work is now more associated with its secondary meaning, which is to labor to earn a living. I feel that it has taken a bad rap in our quest to pursue our passions. Some people would believe that putting themselves in the ballpark of their dreams is enough for them to coast on through to success and fulfillment. Inspiration can only get one so far.
I once thought I had what it took to go into a career in creative writing, but found out eventually that I didn’t have the discipline to master the necessary language skills and use them to write every single day. I also fancied myself a musician once, but realized down the road that it required many hours of dedicated practice. I neither had the drive nor the time to do so. If you want to become better, you have to do the work. There is just no getting around that.
And so I find myself at 40, after having taken a drawn-out detour through a career in chemistry, choosing to and working on being a photographer.
Am I doing what I love?
Do I love what I’m doing?
Yes. Well, on most days.
Does it feel like work?
Yes. It sure does (even more so now that I’m older).
When I basically have to do most of the literal and figurative heavy lifting, there are just days that I question the sanity of the series of choices that led me here. I don’t believe our love of something should negate the pain and sacrifice we have to endure to pursue it, but it should strengthen our will to persevere. Because even the rudimentary definition of work in physics requires that force be applied to get from point A to point B.
Should this stop you from pursuing your dream and living a life of meaningful purpose?
I hope not.
There will always be struggle and suffering in this life. But what more noble cause is there to brave all that for what we love?