“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” –Steve Jobs
My life’s career map looks like a treasure map drawn by a toddler with no sense of cartography, scale, direction, or continuity. This is a thing I become sorely aware of any time I’m nearing the end of something- high school, a job contract that can’t be renewed, college, and now grad school. It seems a little like my heart gets commitment-phobic any time I feel locked into a career. In my life I have wanted to be: a superhero, a cop, an Air Force MP officer, a victim’s advocate, a counselor, a student affairs professional, a librarian, and a professor. At every juncture in my education I’ve sworn that I was done. “No, I don’t need to go to college… Well, I don’t want a master’s…Well, I’d never even think about a doctorate…” It seems like everything I do, I love. I’m infatuated with nearly every new job I get to take on, every field I get to explore. I know how too good to be true that sounds, trust me. I commit like a zealot and become super driven. I generally fairly successful. But I always stumble onto things I love more. Usually after I’m balls deep, if you’ll pardon my expression. One could argue that I just love learning new things, but I really don’t think that’s it. It’s a fear of being stuck on a defined path without an exit strategy.
So what is it that makes a person so terrified of being stuck? And what is the difference between changing your mind and running away?
I’ve been discussing with wise friends about the old adage that if “you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m not sure I agree. I think at some point anything feels like work. The question is whether your love for it outweighs the “Mondays.” My personal question is what could I possibly love enough to say I love it most? Am I just sort of destined to bop around when something else looks more interesting? And if so, is there really anything wrong with that? People frequently say that you don’t have to have one set path, but if you don’t, aren’t you kind of setting yourself up for instability?
Things that I love about myself:
- My ability to muster enthusiasm even when I don’t much feel like it.
- The way I go on cleaning binges when I’m happy or mad.
- My coffee stain birthmarks.
- My inability to gracefully drink or eat things that are hot.
- My Southern accent that comes out when I’m tired or drunk, or passionate.
- My cute albeit tiny butt.
- The color of my hair.
- My attraction to older women. (Yeah, it usually doesn’t work out, but it’s fun.)
- My inability to drink beer. Makes it hard to buy cheap drinks, but I didn’t force my tastebuds into Stockholm Syndrome to like it, either.
- My adoration of poetry that enables my hopeless romantic side.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”― Rumi
I fell a little off the blogging wagon the last week or so. I got busy, as one does, with the living part of life. Part of this busy time was spent with people I care very deeply about and some of it was with people I associate with out of necessity. It sounds harsh, but we all have these categories of people. Anyone who says that they don’t is trying to sell you something. The point I’m making here is not that any people are less valuable than others, but that energy and depth are things to be spared. As an introvert, a part of my identity that I’m just beginning to acknowledge and respect, I long for conversations that mean something. For people who want nothing more from me than my company, as a friend recently aptly put it. I crave these connections, but I also have to know what they cost me. It was my counselor who convinced me of this fact- one that was hard for me to master as a person who perpetually wants to please everyone. He reminded me that no matter how kind you strive to be and how much you care for people, no one deserves all of you. In order to not feel completely drained and vacant, I have to parse out the bits of myself that I keep for me. I don’t owe anyone all of my thoughts, opinions, or feelings. This is a surprisingly difficult concept for me. (I wonder how difficult this is for others, but by the same token don’t want to measure myself against someone else’s ruler.) I’ve been given the homework to dig deep down and figure out who I want to be, for myself, without any regard of outside influence. I’ve been asked what it is I really want, from myself and from others. So that’s gonna be my question to ponder for the next week.
Here’s 10 things I love about myself since I missed a week:
- I love my scars. Every single one tells a story of the person I am and where I’ve been.
- I love my flirtatious nature. It gets me in so much trouble sometimes, but it keeps me bold and daring.
- I love the way I drive. I like that I can’t help leaning forward and that I get super lead-footed when the right song comes on.
- I love my obsessive eyes. Sometimes it’s a pain, but when organizing or cataloging, I feel so powerful.
- I love how I come alive when the weather is warm. Forever a summer baby.
- I love my ante-up-when-the-need-arises abilities. Public speaking makes me incredibly shy, but given the need I can charm and present my way through.
- I love my discomfort in dress clothing. Sounds weird, right? But I like the authenticity of my personality. Never comfortable pretending.
- I love my inability to think straight when I’m frustrated. It’s charming how tongue tied I get in the heat of the moment, and it always breaks my anger.
- I love my patience.
- I love my sexuality. I’m comfortable talking about almost anything related, for the sake of education and discussion.