The "If You Do What You Love" Myth

"If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." This phrase was hammered into my head all throughout grade school. But I no longer think it's true, because I'm just now starting to question it. I'm questioning most things now, which I've always held to be true, for no other reason except for we just keep saying them. So when it comes to a common phrases like this, which is rarely given a second thought, here is my second thought.

Who decided work was bad? Is work really something to be avoided? Isn't work part of the human experience? Getting our hands dirty, using our minds, solving problems, using tools -- these are all valuable human experiences, aren't they?

Oh sure, easy for me to say, Mr. Show-Biz-Corn-Fed-White-Boy over here, who's never worked a "real job" a day in his life. Which is true -- guilty as charged. And I'm not pretending to know what it's like to have a "real job" (meaning, something I don't want to do, but have to). But I do have friends in the service industry who tell me horror stories, which make me grateful to be in my particular line of work. I'm not comparing jobs, because I simply don't have the experience or ego to presume what I do is harder -- I know it's not. But I'd like to point out what I think is a misunderstanding in the phrase, "if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life."

From my experience, when you do what you love, you end up working harder than ever before. At times, it can even feel like pushing a boulder up a hill, the only difference is, you want to push the boulder up the hill. Because the boulder is more like a soul, rather than a meaningless piece of earth. Loving what you do isn't easy. It's full of fear, pain, hardship, time and effort. But it's also full of life, energy, pleasure, etc. In fact, a good indicator of how much love someone has for what they do, is noticing how much work they put into it, or how much they persevere. Which is a good thing. This isn't a complaint about work, it's a celebration. 

When I first started, I used to think the path of least resistance, or a life of leisure, was the ultimate goal. But I don't anymore. After all, what is a life of leisure but an endless stream of boredom. In fact, the only way to enjoy leisure, is to know what it means to work for something. I've done the leisure thing, I've taken 3 months off to do pretty much nothing. So I can assure you, it gets boring, fast. 

Work is engrained in our DNA, and without it, there'd be a huge piece missing from our sense of identity. Just ask any rich bored person. Even Bruce Wayne had to find something to do, so he became a vigilante! The hope is to find more reasons to work on something, not less. To want those calluses, to seek out vulnerability, to push ourselves to the edge of our comfort and see what we come up with, what we make, what we do, or discover. To feel like we couldn't possibly give anymore of ourselves to our life's work, and then realize, we're only just getting started. That's what it feels like to love what you do. 

So if you really do love what you do, you'll end up working your whole life. Not because you have to, but because you want to.