“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.