Monday, June 04, 2012

'Passion' revisited: Do what you like, not what you love.

Some time ago I wrote about overuse and abuse of the word 'passionate'. For a while on the show 'The Crocodile Hunter', Steve Irwin (RIP) would say 'I am passionate about sharks', and I bought that, but when somebody says they are passionate about about the day job, I get the sense there's sort of a fake smile of desperation thing going on. It reminds me of when David Brent in the U.K. office gives that presentation complete with beat box musical accompaniment, trying hard to present himself as something other than a schlub caught in a pretty ordinary and unfulfilling job.

It's also kind of abusive to young people. There are all kinds of hideously irresponsible platitudes thrown about like 'do what you love, and the money will come', when the world and especially the Internet is full of people doing what they love without the money coming. Yes, it's bad to force kids into limited choices like 'you can be a doctor, a lawyer, or a loser', but a little bit of sense and reality is in order, at least as kids get older. If a 4 year old kid wants to be a wizard or a basketball player or have the power to transmogrify into animals when she grows up, then go for it, kid. I wanted to be a World War I fighter pilot, and the war had been over for over 50 years when I was born. I get horribly ill flying in small planes, so it's all for the best in the end.

By this time the reader has concluded I am a miserable negative fuck, and is making a mental note to try to determine my true identity for an HR blacklist, but the reader has it all wrong. While I have in true internet over-sharing fashion stated that I am pretty uninspired by IT, on the flip side it is actually a job where I do get to use my brain sometimes and solve problems, and I do get to learn new things. Things have to get done, and I can do them, and whooptee-doo, it's Miller Time. After going through a period of wanting to get the hell out and looking around at alternative options, I have decided it's quite OK. But I'm not 'passionate' about it, and I think it would be irresponsible and even unethical to bounce around from career day to career day acting like a phony trying to convince kids that working in IT is like a rap video every day with the girls and the cars and the champagne and the hot tubs.

I recently ran across an article that discussed this topic: 'Do What You Love' Is Bad Advice. One thing that was really noteworthy about this article is that not only is it worthwhile to read the comments, the comments are perhaps more interesting than the article itself. There are quite a few artists and creative types agreeing that the 'do what you love and the money will come' thing is the worst kind of bullshit and led them astray. Some are even getting degrees in accounting, which I think is going too far to the other extreme - it makes me think of the final minutes in 'Requiem For a Dream' when Jennifer Connelly is doing that 'ass to ass' thing, Jared Leto has just lost an arm, and Marlon Wayans is in a jail cell screaming. It doesn't have to be that bad, which is kind of the point. Getting on a track where you can pay the bills but don't hate life is not such a bad thing, especially if the job in question is not life-consuming and frees you up to spend time doing stuff you actually do love to do.

1 comment:

Suzette said...

I love this post.

I'm always grateful for someone who is willing to be honest and realistic about the world out there. I am currently studying to complete a degree to work in a profession that I have no idea if I'll enjoy or not. It's hard to be realistic, but I don't see there being any other way than saying you don't mind what you do.

I've only just discovered your blog, but i enjoy your outlook. It's refreshing.