The Greatest Myth about “Doing Work You Love”

Written by on 27 Jan 2016

“Ugh… but I just don’t feel like it.”


Another day of writing. Another annoyed reaction.


For whatever reason, I just could not get with the program.


I’d say about half of the time I sit down to my computer to write, those are the first words out of my mouth (and usually the first words on the page). And still, I’m amazed by them every single time. I mean, call me crazy, but aren’t you supposed to love doing the work you love doing?!


The minute I said that to myself, I realized something really profound. It’s something that our parents and mentors have been trying to beat into our heads for ages but we have so carefully and ubiquitously ignored it.


There is an unfortunate myth about doing work that you love.


The world says you will know it’s right, because you will love it all the time.


Pinterest says you will joyfully create tiny paper-mache masterpieces all the time. Facebook says you will selflessly celebrate breath-taking moments all the time. LinkedIn says you will be plugged in and influential all the time. Instagram says you will be “liked” all the time.


But guess what?


Sometimes, you just won’t feel like it.


Sometimes you won’t love doing the work you love doing.


My boyfriend is a 9th grade algebra teacher, God bless him.


He tells me stories that make me want to retroactively call all of my elementary, middle, and high school teachers and apologize to them for being such a bratty know-it-all. Now I know why my Calculus teacher literally removed her shoe and threw it at me in 11th grade. I don’t blame her at all—I deserved it.


I mean, who the hell did I think I was anyway?!


But here’s the deal: teaching is his dream job.


He loves kids. He loves school. He loves math.


And he’s done so many courageous things to get there.


He actually wanted to study education and be a teacher from the get-go, but was convinced to get a degree in finance and business because it was more “practical.” He worked for three years at a commercial real estate company in a finance department of 3 where he was incredibly overworked and egregiously underpaid. He finally said life is too short and ain’t nobody got time for that, so he decided to follow his passion and pursue teaching just one year ago.


And wouldn’t you believe it—he passed his exams, got a job, and started teaching.


You might think the story ends there with sunshine and rainbows and unicorn horns.


But if you did, you’d be wrong.


Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that once you’re on the right path, the road becomes even more difficult. In fact, I think that’s how you know you’re doing something right. Not to say that things always need to be hard, but if life doesn’t feel a little challenging and you don’t feel as though you’re struggling for something meaningful, you might want to re-evaluate where you’re going.


Everything worth doing will require sacrifice and hard work.


Even the things we love doing will present us with crap we hate doing.


Take my man, for instance. He’s a really hard worker and easily self-motivated. He doesn’t need someone telling him exactly what’s in it for him to get something done. He just does what’s right.


Do you think every single one of the kids he’s teaching thinks that way?


Uhhhhh… hells-to-the-no!


Every day he deals with kids not doing their homework. Every day he has to re-teach something he taught the previous day. Every day he has to convince these kids that math is useful and beneficial to their futures.


Every. Day.


God bless.


It would be easy to get discouraged, and I know that sometimes he takes things on the chin better than others. But it would be a million times harder to deal with the everyday challenges if he had been expecting unicorn horns instead.


You have to know that even when you’re on the right path, things will be difficult.


And you can’t let those things throw you off.


Take my work for instance. Do you think every time I sit down to write, I have a completely formulated brilliant thought that ties nicely into something topical or something that just happened in my life? Do you think that I mindlessly wordsmith while watching re-runs of FRIENDS and eating homemade Dunk-a-Roos? Do you think that every day of my work is life-giving and joy-filled?


Once again… hells-to-the-no!


I deal with crap, too.


I deal with invoices going unpaid for 6 months. I deal with mind-numbing writers block. I deal with people I categorically don’t like… and I get paid to work with people. I deal with nerves before speeches and mustering up the will to edit a podcast and making forced cold calls and handling all my own technology, which for the love of all things holy, makes me want to rip my hair out and take a sedative.


There’s plenty about my role that I don’t like. My job’s not perfect. Neither am I.


But I’m on the path to doing something that I love. I may not be all the way there, but I’m so much closer than I used to be. And every day I can either learn from what comes my way or I can get discouraged by it.


Don’t buy into the myth that if you’re doing work you love, everything will be easy. Don’t believe it when people say that it won’t “feel like work.” Don’t stress that you always have to sense that you’re on the right path.


That’s a load of crap.


Sometimes you’ll feel discouraged. Sometimes you’ll feel overwhelmed. Sometimes you’ll feel like you don’t even know why you bother at all.


Sometimes you’ll ask yourself, what’s the point?


Sometimes you’ll say to yourself, I just don’t feel like it.


But don’t let that feeling get the best of you.


You are on your way. You are doing something meaningful in this world. You are a light to others who have yet to take their first step.


Keep going. For yourself. And for all of us.


And maybe one day, we’ll be done with this unicorn myth for good.

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