Growing up, I never believed that I had to choose between my passion and a paycheque. I doggedly pursued my hobbies in the hopes that one day I would attain the millennial dream and the “holy grail of a creative career,” as Jamie Varon put it, and “do what I love” for a living.
But no matter what you get paid to do – travel the world, watch Netflix all day, taste test ice cream(!!) – the moment you monetize an activity that you love, it taints the purity of the experience. It carries an added pressure that didn’t exist before and it becomes easy to lose sight of why you loved doing it to begin with.
While I certainly enjoy creating, communicating, and storytelling more than I would slinging fast food for a living, it still has it’s frustrating moments. Some days I become so consumed with running circles on this hamster wheel of my own making (Create. Sleep. Repeat.) that I convince myself that I’m “too busy” to take time for myself to do things that just make me happy. “Just” as if my happiness was some small, inconsequential thing instead of the north star that should be guiding my life.
I placed additional conditions that a pursuit that I love must fulfill in order for it to be worthy of doing:
It must support me financially.
It must bring me notoriety.
It should be easy for me, always.
I should be good – if not the best – at it.
It must be important and make a difference.
It became work.
But then I read this quote by author and poet Tyler Knott Gregson:
“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”
My priorities realigned. The only reason we need to do something that makes us happy is that it makes us happy. That’s it. There doesn’t have to be a point. It doesn’t even matter if we’re good at it! Would it be nice to get paid to live our lives, à la Kardashian? I certainly wouldn’t say no…but if that’s not the case, do what you love because it brings you joy.
Here’s where I explain the relevance of the image of the dancing sushi at the top of the page…
I don’t feel like I’m particularly talented at illustrating but I got an idea in my head to do a series, integrating doodles of food on top of photos then animating them. It doesn’t serve a purpose (other than to amuse me). I’m not getting paid for them and it’s nothing groundbreaking but I knew I’d enjoy doing it.
So I did it. I chased my happy.