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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Was (or Is) Your Work a Labor of Love?

Undoubtedly because we are in college commencement season, last weekend a philosophy professor held forth in the pages of The New York Times on the subject of the well-worn counsel to “follow your passion” or “do what you love” or “find meaning” or “self-fulfillment” in the livelihood you choose.

He is questioning whether such advice is “wisdom or malarkey” and because philosophers can't help themselves, he embellishes his otherwise thoughtful enquiry with a lot of word salad before coming down on the side of malarkey:

”Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation,” writes Gordon Marino. “Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.”

Before arriving at his conclusion, Marino notes that others have found the standard “passion” guidance to be elitist – that whole sets of people, such as some of the students he counsels, don't have that luxury. Nor did his father (or mine either):

”My father didn’t do what he loved. He labored at a job he detested so that he could send his children to college. Was he just unenlightened and mistaken to put the well-being of others above his own personal interests?

“It might be argued that his idea of self-fulfillment was taking care of his family, but again, like so many other less than fortunate ones, he hated his work but gritted his teeth and did it well.”

Even when there is not the imperative to support a family, few people grow up with a passion that either cannot be ignored or can be turned into a career. I didn't have one and I didn't go to college because, in addition to another issue or two, I had no idea what I wanted to study. Not an inkling.

So, prepared with a decent high school education and barely adequate typing skills (I got better), I earned my living as an office clerk and then secretary.

In my world back then, secretary was a step up but it wasn't any more engaging than being a clerk. The work was deadly boring but no one had ever suggested to me that how I supported myself should be interesting or that I should like it.

After several years, I got lucky and spent the rest of my working life in television production and, for the last ten years, in internet development – engaging, fascinating work where I was always stretched intellectually and was learning every day. I was never bored again.

But I want to stress that it was pure luck and until that happened, it never occurred to me that work would ever be anything but tedious.

(Historically, it is important to recall that back in the 1950s when I started out, women had few career choices. If they attended college – not many of us - they could be nurses or teachers. Without college, waitress or secretary was about it so the question of following a passion or not in those days was primarily a male prerogative .)

Perhaps I'm mistaken but it is my sense that the idea of pursuing one's passion or self-fulfillment is relatively new – that it gained widespread traction in “the Sixties,” a time when America's relative economic well-being and the rise of the “me generation” allowed such indulgence. Marino seems to agree:

”The faith that my likes and dislikes or our sense of meaning alone should decide what I do is part and parcel with the gospel of self-fulfillment.

And, to me, sounds hopelessly middle class.

To repeat Marino's malarkey conclusion:

”Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation,” writes Gordon Marino. “Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.”

So here is what I'm interested in from you today: Whether you are retired or still working, did/do you follow your passion? Did/do you find self-fullment or meaning in your livelihood?

Have you eagerly gone to your job every day? Or have you detested it?

Tell us about it. And if you were giving a commencement speech this year, would you advise the graduates to do what they love? Is that idea wisdom or malarkey, do you think?


At The Elders Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: When It Hits


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

If you are lucky, you can follow your passion but if one is to survive and be responsible for oneself, usually one must be practical.

One way or another I think luck is involved.

I tried a couple of times to leave and change my occupation and do something exciting or more fun but I always went back because of the money it paid.

I always wanted to do something "artsy" but didn't really go after it. I probably studied education because my mom said I would be a good teacher! Really!! (I was a bossy type...) I finished school, taught a bit in elementary school and then stayed home with my kids....which I loved doing!

When I went back to teaching, a job teaching adults in the county jail was available. I went for it and pretty much enjoyed all of it, even earning a Teacher of the Year award in Corrections. I always felt like I was making a difference. I am proud of my work. Somedays it was not easy to be "on" and it took much energy to do it well.

And now, I am happy to be retired and quilting.

I imagine that those for whom work is always a joy are very very rare indeed. I love my work itself, but there are always other people involved, darn it, and other people vary so much in their character:).

As an aside: My mother got her degree as an architectural engineer. No one would hire here as an architect. Only as a draftsman.

I knew from the age of 4 what I was good at. Drawing. I got A's in high school and the first 4 years of college in art. I went back to school to follow my dreams at age 45. Afterwords, tho I had three small local galleries and sold all I could make, I had to take on day jobs to pay my share of the rent. Following one's dreams isn't always practical, but I'm glad I did.

I had a job that I thought was "following my passion". I stuck with it until it became so stressful that my health was suffering.

Then I got a job that was not anywhere close to my passion, but it paid well, was moderately interesting, was with a bunch of people I didn't mind spending my whole day with, and was sufficiently unstressful that I went home each day and forgot about that job.

I have to say that became my gold standard for a "good" job: it pays OK and you can walk away from it each day and forget about it. I told my kids that finding their passion was not the be-all and end-all; if they could find work that let them live an unstressed life then they were doing well. There's plenty more to life than having the dream job or career.

Yes, in the 60s so many in my college class became teachers as our choice of jobs was limited. So I followed not ever entertaining anything else but education. Lucky me! I had two teaching jobs in foreign countries, found a passionate avocational volunteer job on various archaeological digs, and kept the life long learning interest going for many years. It all turned out OK.

I followed my passion into newspaper journalism. Eventually, I could not earn a good living that way. I was encouraged by others to become a college teacher of communication. I earned my graduate degrees in my late 40s. I now teach at a career college, where it is a privilege to teach young people who are trying to get themselves out of some heart-breaking situations. I have taught three young men with bullet wounds from urban violence, and two more who saw a close relative shot and killed in front of them as a young child. Learning to teach has been a growing experience for me. For example, newsrooms were caustic places; one was expected to be tough. Hurt feelings were not an option. Now, I have to be happy that stray words do not unintentional wound, or even stop, one of my students from trying to change. They often have not had much success, and encouragement is vital. A lot of the job is drudgery -- grading, forms to fill out (with no secretary) and bountiful paperwork. I believe I am supposed to do the work that God sets before me as well as I possible can. Early in life, I noticed that even journalism could be drudgery, and formed this philosophy: "It is called work, because it is not play nor leisure. If it were, they wouldn't have to pay us to do it." I hope to work four more years, and will do so whether full-time or as an adjunct, because I need the nest egg.

It's true that one doesn't always have the luxury of following one's passion at work. When I first got out of college, I didn't have the appropriate degree for what I wanted to do, so I just got a job. I didn't like it much, nor did I like my second one, but I stuck with them and did the best I could because I needed the money.

Eventually, however, I became very unhappy and I simply quit, vowing not to work again until I could do something I really liked. I survived on temp jobs for a year before being hired at a newspaper, which is what I wanted. I did grunt work at first, but that was fine; I knew I could work my way up and I did. The rest of my career was spent in journalism.

Of course we all have to work whether we want to or not to support ourselves, and we can't always choose what job we will have. But I think it simply makes sense to go for the thing you love if you can. Some people can do a job they hate, walk away from it and lead a great life after working hours. I am not one of them. I carry my work with me, good or bad, so I'm glad I was able to do work I really cared about.

I was never able to even get a toe, let alone a foot, into the door of my chosen profession back then. The "Old boy's network" was closed to guys from my background. Fortunately I found meaningful work in an OK job. However, to this day, I feel "unfulfilled". Now, in retirement, I have an opportunity to do something I enjoy, even if I don't get paid for it. Hooray for old age.

I, like you, wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I went to college for two years with the idea of teaching English and history to high-school students, but I saw the direction that young people (younger than I was) were going insofar as their disrespect to authority, and I abandoned that idea, knowing that I didn't have the patience to put up with such nonsense. I became a secretary, then worked for Uncle Sam for several years, then returned to secretarial work. Then, after I remarried, I found THE LAW, and became a paralegal, which path I followed for almost 25 years until I was able to retire. I found my work as a paralegal to be the most rewarding I could have done. I had all the perks of being a lawyer without any of the pitfalls. I was prohibited from doing three things: (1) giving legal advice; (2) signing court documents; and (3) appearing in court on behalf of client. I could do anything else that a lawyer can do, without having to pay the outrageous malpractice insurance costs. I loved it, up until the last year when I recognized burn-out in myself, and retired to stay home and run my little home-based company and cook dinner five nights a week for my spouse!

I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a writer and I assumed I should follow my passion. It was a very middle-class idea,and it came from my parents: I knew that they wanted their children to grow up to be happy and productive people. For daughters, of course, that meant getting married and having kids, but I figured I could do that with pen in hand. All the jobs I ever had involved writing, and I disliked some and loved others, but I'm still writing.

I earned my MA (in Physics.. Marie Curie was my lodestar) in 1965. The department chairman made it quite clear that no "girl" was going to earn a PhD in his department. I took the hint and entered the career phase of my life. I had mostly good jobs and a few bad ones. Every job has its share of what I call SLJ's (shitty little jobs). That is life. Inevitable for that time, each new assignment brought the challenge of proving over again that the "girl" actually knew something. Eventually that issue faded (perhaps the times had changed or perhaps I'd developed a reputation... maybe both) and I was accepted as an equal if somewhat different looking colleague. In the middle 90's, the company that I worked for since 1968 hit difficult times and they began treating their older employees (male and female) badly in the hope that they would retire. I was able to and did.

I had assignments that I disliked (testing properties of adhesives). However I had some (hologram development, a prototype video recorder) for which I would jump out of bed in the morning and run to work... eating breakfast along the way. Work in those jobs was interesting and rewarding. Testing adhesives paid the rent and gave me enough free time to look for a better job and for gentleman friends.

On the subject of pay... I discovered that at my adhesive testing job, I was paid less than the man who was my technician... because (I asked) he had a family and I did not! That did not improve my attitude and I intensified my efforts to find a different job. By the beginning of the 70's, I was working for a company that paid by performance level... not need... so that was not an issue again.

I am retired and I miss the structure that work gave my life. My dream work when I graduated college was to work in the Foreign Service. It did not happen because of foreign language problems. I should have tried again.

But I did teach in many schools from Jr.High through college, in this country and overseas. Mostly I enjoyed the work due to both colleagues and many, if not all all, of my students. So a lot of my travel bug was satisfied since many jobs entailed a good deal of travel to places I might not have gotten to otherwise.
Also I know people who have followed their passions to very lucrative and often prestigious jobs but dislike their work even tho successful.

I must say, also, that I find the pejorative use of "middle class" to be unwarranted. There is no reason to scorn those whose ambition is to get into the middle class, with all the problems it faces today. In fact I find its usage, itself, to be "elitist".
Judy, NC

I got an commercial art degree in the 60's over my parent's protests and the only job I could find was drawing airplane parts. It paid twice as much than the only other job I was offered which was doing displays at an apartment store. It was tolerable. I got a business license and did art at home selling it wherever I could but working elsewhere for $.

Later I worked in Tech Publications and I really liked that, turned out I liked to write and got to teach adults which I liked. Along the way I finished a certificate program in programming and became a Systems Analyst. Good pay, great bennies, job was mostly ok. Art still a side venture. Raised kids, one of the perks of my job was flexible time so I didn't miss much of their doings when they became school age. Both of them are/were dyslexic.

Right before my 60th birthday I went to care for my Dad who was thought to be dying at the time. I took a 90 day family leave. Two months before that I got a new manager from hell and in spite of the circumstances was glad to get away. Dad survived, I took early retirement and never went back.

I moved to be near my son and his family, and got a job in with not-for-profit running a job lab and teaching people to write resumes and use computers, I loved it. I started volunteering teaching people to read. If I could magically change anything I would have become a teacher in college, a reading specialist. But that information was not available to me then. My Dad must be laughing, he wanted me to be a teacher. However this is now and I am making art again.

I'd tell graduates to keep an eye on the things that give them satisfaction and see how they can use that information to steer their careers. As for me looking back, I see most of my route changes were chosen to support (in many ways) my family, children and spouse. Turns out the 40+ years of paid work was the avocation, and they were and are the real deal. And I'm making art again.


I graduated from high school in 1965 and went to college. I majored in elementary education because that was what was expected--teaching, nursing, secretary were about all that was available. Even though I had taken all the math (including calculus), biology, chemistry, and physics that was available in my high school, I was flat out told that I would never get into a medical school which was always my interest. I taught for several years, stayed home with my daughter for several years, and then went to pharmacy school. I worked as a hospital pharmacist for 22 years. It was a great career and I got great satisfaction from it. And you better believe I made sure my daughter knew that she could have any career she wanted and was willing to work for.

I remember so well leaving Oklahoma in the mid 60s to seek my career. I headed to NYC, Bos, and WDC discovering in each that all the jobs were secy or gal Friday.

I had no idea what I wanted to do except to avoid teaching (both parents taught) and math (Dad pushed too hard on that). By accident I learned of an unusual intern program designed to lure returned peace corps volunteers into inner-city teaching jobs and was accepted. I taught high school math (!) and loved it but after a few years (which included the year of the riots), found it too exhausting.

So off I went to grad school (because boyfriend got a faculty job) and, doctorate in hand, quickly eliminated working in the federal govt (11 months) and a big research company (3 years). My passion turned out to be working for myself which I have done for 40 years and loved (traveling to schools all over the country, talking to teachers and admins).

I feel extremely fortunate to have landed in something rewarding (education politics excepted). I'm retiring this year at 70 and looking forward to more volunteer work around senior housing and indulging my creative side if I can find it.

judygg4...
I suppose I was not clear enough.

My scornful use of middle class in that sentence was aimed not at those who aspire to the middle class but to the middle class assumption that everyone has the luxury to pursue self-fulfillment.

It would be fascinating to pose the same question to our grown daughters because they have faced much less discrimination related to work. (Think Sandra Day O'Conner who graduated first in her law school class at Stanford, yet was advised to apply for jobs as a legal secretary.)

My own daughter followed her passion in college and majored in philosophy. When she realized that her career options were limited and the pay would probably be quite low, she applied to a graduate program in Regional Planning. It turned out to be a great choice, and she loves the work.

As a career counselor for 30+ years, I didn't use, nor did I encourage the use of the word "passion." Passion comes and goes-- sort of like lust. I likened a good career choice to a good marriage, where there was room for growth and change; where some days were interesting and some dull; where new skills kept things interesting and so on. There is no perfect career, just as there is no perfect marriage. Careers evolve, just as yours did.

AS a retiree of two years, I apply the same advice to myself and others when picking "third box" activities.

I am extremely lucky to have "dropped into" a profession that is definitely my passion and gives me joy at all times. I am also lucky in that I didn't have to rely on my work to support my family, since my husband did quite well at that. Being a floral designer is a wonderful way to spend my time, and it benefits others as well, and makes them happy. What could be better?

In my Senior year, 1966, I decided I wanted to go to college to be an Aerial Photographer. I annouced this to my Father who was going to pay for college and his response was..."You can be a Teacher or a Secretary, that is what girls do" Also I wanted to go away to college, had it all set up....nope that was not happening either, local college only. There were days he would drive me to college. So I selected a mix of Liberal Arts and Business. I worked as a Secretary part time until I graduated and then became the most miserable and scared teacher there was. But there was redemption. I married, changed authority, became pregnant, left the teaching profession, and had some time to really decide what I wanted to do. I became a legal assistant for a public defender. Ah but that just did not sit well with me either as I felt I was on the wrong side here. God Bless my husband who has since passed. He wanted whatever I wanted. At 30 years old I applied and was accepted to the Police Academy. This felt right and this profession was what I wanted. I retired as a Sergeant....but not before I went back to college for 5 years at night while on the force and studied Human Relations. I stayed retired for about a year and a half and then found a job in HR and that is the field I am still in today at age 65. I am still engaged with people but only in a different way, I don't arrest them anymore. Would I say I enyoy my job, yes and no because at some point I would like to retire but I think I will miss it as well. I know the day is coming but I wonder for how long I will stay retired!

I came up in life thinking that work was whatever I did to pay the rent -- and life was following my passion which was participation in democratic (small "d") civic life. As a result I did a vast number of things to pay the rent in smaller or larger chunks, depending on the possibilities I encountered. Some of the odder ones were working for an answering service which had no switchboard, just 20 phone receivers; pasting plastic striping around particle board for furniture manufacture; delivering signs to small businesses via the New York subway system ... Those are just a few.

Concurrently, I followed my passion for participatory politics, electoral and advocacy. After many years and many campaigns, I got pretty good at this and ended up getting paid (poorly at first, later better) to organize the sort of work I'd been doing. At first I was queasy about this; a democratic republic needs engaged volunteer citizens, not just paid political pros. But I had to like getting paid!

I'm still in that world, though probably mostly retired since I simply can't work the 18 hour a day schedules my kind of work needs. But I'm never without calls on my more limited energies; now I can be a volunteer again!

I left school at 17 in the 1950s and spent the next 13 years as a secretary, later P.A. and I kept asking myself "where is the meaning in this". I came close when my final job was in hospital administration, as the end product of patients' well-being held some meaning. I wasn't interested in a fat salary, just enough to pay my way.

I went to university at 30 and studied to be a social worker. I worked in hospitals for the next 20 years - in child protection, geriatric medicine, orthopaedics, HIV and psychiatry.Along the way I studied in my spare time on a psychotherapy course. I experienced many shorter courses too in art and drama therapy and all this was useful in my final job in a residential rehab unit for people with alcohol and drug problems.

I can honestly say I went to work with a spring in my step and that was as much to do with my co-workers as the nature of the work - creative group work and one-to-one therapy. I just loved it.

I thought I'm miss it greatly when I retired 12 years ago, but I've never looked back. Now, I train and coordinate volunteers for a charity for older people who need help and support.

I always knew I was an artist but also realized pretty early that my very affluent and middle class parents were not going to "allow" me to go to college. They were of the keep the female in her place school. They beat and bullied and even took the money I earned by baby sitting to try to cage me in. I had to run away from home (money from a supportive teacher) & work as a waitress to make enough money to move to SF. I worked as a commercial artist for a while but since I wanted to get that college degree, ended up working in hospitals - admitting and various administrative jobs. When I graduated, it was one of our many recessions so I stayed working in hospitals. I took pride in doing difficult jobs well but can't say I enjoyed it. Now, in retirement, I can finally follow my bliss - make art and write about art. It has been a long, difficult road but I can finally get up in the morning without the sense of dread as to what the day will bring.

My experience is a lot like yours, Ronni. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up -- went off to college because I could and to get away from home. Studied to be a teacher, because that was one of my few options and I love language and writing.

I didn't stay long in teaching, but my writing abilities are what got me my various other jobs, all different but all involving writing.

I also think that passions change over the course of a lifetime. The secret might be to find something you love to do and find a place in your life to do it. It doesn't have to be your paid work; you just need something in your life that gives you personal job.

After years of struggling to train and be an actress, my daughter married, had a kid, and now is blissfully involved in home-schooling, learning new stuff every day along with her son.

My late former husband used to call me a dilettante because I had no one driving passion. I didn't mind taking jobs I knew nothing about because, eventually, I would find something in them to enjoy. And if I didn't, I would leave and try another.

Of course, with today's job market, that's hard to do.

Knowing what your passion is does not mean that you have to be paid to do it. "Do what you love and the money will follow" does not work most of the time.

Oops, I meant "give you JOY, not Job. (That's what happens when I type too fast.)

I thought I might like to be a nurse but had no transportation to the hospital where I would have to go back and forth in 1961. So, I became a teacher and amazingly I loved it - going between all grades from first to eighth in forty years. I have been retired five years and miss the children so much. My own millennial aged children are well educated but struggle to find jobs in their language arts fields. What can I say to them when survival is key. My husband gave up teaching when he could not support us on a small town teachers salary. Today any job is a job!

Thanks for opening up the DWYL topic today, a mantra for our times that has always sounded somewhat disingenious to me, as I see it plastered over every available surface! Writing for Slate magazine, Miya Tokumitsu wrote a stunning analysis of DWYL a few months back entitled "in the Name of Love" which pretty much ripped the lid off the falseness of our self-absorption and narcissism as applied to the workplace. Here's a brief quote from that article that sums up how I feel about DWYL:

"Do What You Love" disguises the fact that able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign (or signifier) of socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who can pay for art school and who can pay for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can bestow DWYL as career advice upon those covetous of her success." - and I might add - without the knowledge that the DWYL proselytizer had considerable help. In this regard, the DWYL mantra, embodies the absence of self-sacrifice, a logical conclusion of a cultural revolution that engendered generational advancements towards narcissism and greed.

My life has been compartmentalized by various jobs and careers over many years in the workplace. After starting in the '50s with nothing but a HS degree, the jobs were a string of clerical stints until, following my then husband's college graduation and a fortuitous inheritance, I fell into what I thought was my destiny: homemaking and motherhood. That fell apart with the divorce that seemed to be SOP in those days so I then became a single working mother stupidly looking for a replacement husband, which wasn't difficult to find.

Fast forward through the mad housewife years followed by an epiphany: why didn't I get the education myself? One BA, another divorce, and an MA later, I finally entered the job market with a career---not a job---in mind and the whole DWYL thing in my heart. But prospective employers weren't buying it, since jobs were scarce and applicants many. The job I took, in a government agency, was so depressing that I read the short anecdotes of Studs Terkel's "Working" on the bus to work every morning and related completely to the central theme that work, by its nature, is brutal.

Then I was rescued by being in the right place at the right time and took over a statewide program that built into a management position with a staff of 15 or so, lots of travel and the feeling of doing something really worthwhile. Although I changed jobs once again for the opportunity to live in a better place, the skills and experience I had gained served me well in a university management position until my retirement. And since I had long since stopped looking for replacement husbands, I was quite happy and fulfilled as an independent woman in both my work and my retirement.

I don't think we should do what we hate. But I do agree we should do things that are useful, and not things that are just self-indulgent. From my own experience I'd say the issue is nowhere near black or white. We like some aspects of our job, not others. We can tolerate the bad things about work if we feel, overall, that the job is fulfilling and worthwhile.

By the way, one benefit of feminism for males is that we have been set free (at least somewhat) from the responsibility of being the sole provider for our families, which often in the past did chain men to jobs that they hated.

I ended up teaching high school English for thirty-four years. I majored in English because I love(d) to read. It was only a year before college graduation that I realized I had to find a way to earn a living, so I added education to my major.

Was it my passion? Well, I loved my work eighty per cent of the time. Would I have done it without getting paid? No. I knew I had to earn a decent living for myself. My mother had advised me for years to never put myself in a position in which I would have to depend on anyone else but myself for money. So I worked, and I did everything I could to make it interesting for me and my students. You take the work you have, and you make it work for you. And it helps to be grateful for having the work.

All I wanted to do was be a wife and mother. I am 76 and that's mostly what all girls wanted to do in middle America back then. I never had any dreams of a career. My mother swears she wanted me to major in journalism, but I don't remember her encouraging me in that direction. I think I would have been a good journalist.

I majored in education, which is what middle class women did in those days mostly. I taught for a year, was bad at it and hated it. So I got married and 20 years later got divorced. Then after a decade in commercial real estate (for which I am totally unsuited) I enrolled in the masters program for library school - it was my 60th birthday.

I can't say being a librarian was my dream, but it was better than commercial real estate. I love research and I love reading so I spent the final decade of my work life in a job that gave me an opportunity to do both with like-minded people.

I went to a speech given by Gloria Steinem in Boulder, CO back in the 80s (my commercial real estate decade). She spoke about how life breaks down into decades and it has for me. My life until now can be described by another of her insights when she said "I lived my first 50 years externally, reacting more than acting," she said. "I've been much too nice."

I think the idea falls on the side of "Malarkey". My Dad was a small town banker. I never wanted to do that. He did not go to college and I had the good fortune to do so. I wanted to be a Pharmacist, I thought, but I had a problem, which was Chemistry. I grew to find out that I was a people person and not very analysis oriented. I was a volunteer in the Army and served in Vietnam and even considered a career in the military. But guess what, I completed my military obligation and then became a banker, just like my Dad, but in a big city bank. I succeeded in management of people and found that what I really liked was helping people accomplish things that they wanted to do. I am certain that other similar positions outside of banking would have likely provided me with work that I could love. I retired from the bank and enjoyed retirement for 15 years. I returned to work about 8 months ago because my daughter in law attorney started a new law firm doing only personal bankruptcies. I find that I like helping those people with problems and spend most of my workday in conference with clients examining their alternatives and evaluating their situations. It fits right in and I like it.

I have a friend who is very smart and not very sales oriented. His Dad was a great salesman and developed a very successful auto dealership. My friend was pressured by his father to enter the auto businss which he did. I am sure that he was not in love with it but he was smart enough to see that he could not do anything else that would provide him with such a rewarding financial career.

My point in sharing these two examples is that we end up doing what we have to do to satisfy our needs even if we do not love it. Maybe, we just fall into it and decide that it will work and keep on working to achieve success. After a while in most cases you cannot afford to make a change. And so you go on!!!

From childhood I loved art and writing. I majored in advertising business to combine the two, after deciding a creative writing degree was not likely to pay the bills. Was lucky enough to find jobs with newspapers, printing companies, publishers, etc. Ended as managing editor of a medical journal, which called upon all the different skills I'd developed in the previous years. Deadlines made the work incredibly stressful at times, as did office politics, but I never lost my interest in and love of the process of publishing.

I know I was incredibly lucky to find work I loved AND that paid the bills. And I do believe that if you're doing what you love, you'll naturally be more interested and do a better job. I see no reason not to pursue work you love if you can find it and if it will pay you well enough to live as you want to live.

As for the quotations in the post, why do something you hate if you don't have to, if something you love and care about will pay the bills? And regardless of whether I loved or hated the job, it's a matter of personal pride to always do the best I can.

I have been so blessed in my life to be able to do what I love, first as an avocation, then as a vocation. I lived and breathed music at 17 as I had for ten years since my first piano lesson. I was accepted at a conservatory in a university as a voice major and piano minor. I did not plan to teach, but to perform classical music and direct vocal choirs.Then I discovered boys---and my music passion took second place to my desire to be a wife and mother. So after 2 years, I married and spent 22 years lucky enough to be supported and able to stay home and raise my 3, and help raise my 2 nephews whose mom DID have to earn a living. When the marriage ended, I really didn't have much choice--I had to support myself and music was all I knew.But I loved it even more having started by then a career as a folk music performer. I ended up doing some teaching at private schools, but mostly it was performing, and I don't remember EVER being anything but eager and excited about doing a concert, unless in the one or two times I knew ahead of time it was going to be the "gig from hell." I was able to continue on a part-time basis until I was 67, and also ran coffeehouses for 26 years out of 45, as a volunteer and out of my love for folk music and wish to support other performers. True,I struggled financially for most of those years, but I wouldn't do anything any differently--and guess what? In the last few months, at age 81, I have begun again, feeble voice and all, singing a song or two at open stages, in spite of being able to play only 1 of the 7 or so instruments I used to play. 58 years of RA had done its dirty deeds on my hands, despite numerous surgeries to be able to continue that long. I know how blessed I've been, but I guess I fall into the school of thought that making a choice for following your passion is worth a financial sacrifice. I always had all I needed, and much of what I wanted, but I learned early on to know the difference.

At 77, I'm about to retire in a few months from a job I've mostly found very rewarding. For the past 39 years I've worked for a midsize nonprofit alcohol/drug treatment agency. I started as an outreach worker and progressed to upper management positions, including brief stints as Acting CEO. About 10 years ago, the constant funding crises, disgruntled employees, long hours and stress of being "on call" 24/7 had begun to make me crazy. I helped to select my replacement and took a step back into an administrative support job, where I've been ever since. As I stated in my letter of resignation, for the most part, it's been a great ride. Coincidentally, my replacement is following the same path. She's stepping down as CEO this year but will continue in a less intense role for 2-3 more years.

I had many jobs, mostly secretarial, before joining the agency. Some of them were merely boring and others were downright unpleasant. I briefly(!) worked for a real estate broker with a nasty temper. The day he threw a glass ashtray at me was my last. However, as "career girls" of my generation know all too well, harassment of all kinds was simply the way it was. Much has changed--and it certainly needed to.

I graduated from a respected university in 1958, but since I hadn't elected to become a teacher or nurse, the only jobs available to me were secretarial. I realized some time ago that I took some wrong turns along the way when I was young, and I would do things very differently now. Yet, overall, it could have been a whole lot worse!

At 72, a cancer survivor and having survived a fall that missed severing my femoral artery by one inch, I am lucky to be alive. If I died tomorrow I would have to say that I could not have imagined a more wonderful life. I had wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in first grade. My first grade teacher's name was Miss Valentine and I thought she was beautiful and I wanted to be just like her. I graduated from college in 1963 with a B.A. Degree in Elementary Education. I taught for 14 years...took time out to have a son and a daughter with my handsome musician husband and after retiring from teaching, landed a job as a sales representative for several companies in the fashion industry. I represented lines of clothing and one jewelry company to buyers throughout parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I was flown to New York, California, and North Carolina by my companies to preview their lines and study their desired presentations before booking appointments for showing at Minneapolis and Chicago markets. Somehow I was in the right place at the right time and my family supported me all the way. I am facing two major surgeries in the near future, neither for cancer. They will be my tenth and eleventh surgeries. Everyday is a gift and I am thankful for every minute of every day!

Common threads from everyone - in my day, there were few choices and I was one of many children. No money for college, although I briefly tried to work and go to school. But without direction, I ended up as a secretary in the legal specialty - turned out I would never be out of work as there is great demand. But the flip side is that I swallowed many humiliations over the years as a mere "secretary" If I had to do it over (and I am trying to impress this on my grandchildren) I would realize that education is the true and only key to freedom for women. Still, it could have been worse and I am now retired and happy not to have to work for the "man."

Even in 1971, the career choices for women in the farm belt of the Midwest, the career choice for women was either nursing or teaching. My mother was adamant that I go into nursing, and even determined which college I would attend. So of course that meant that I would not even consider going into nursing, and besides – teaching fit in so well with my career as a lifeguard! (Guess it didn’t occur to me that there weren’t too career lifeguards out there) I have been in education for about 20 years; worked in the personnel administration in the corporate world in the 1980s, which was a wonderful education for this farmgirl! I currently serve as school librarian for several elementary schools. Faced with not-so-subtle pressure from one of my young administrators , I have made no secret of the fact that the next school year will be my last (I’ll be 62 next April). I did this consciously, figuring the district would be less likely to try to force me out and have a fight on their hands, or cut the program entirely, which is also a possibility, if they knew I was on the way out. Tenure? Let me educate you folks not employed in education; this is not a life-time job guarantee, but a guarantee of due process when faced with loosing one’s job, regardless of the reason. Anyway, I’ve noticed that I have truly become “neutered” by making so secret of my expiration date. I suppposed that was the trade-off. Was this my dream job? At a younger age, in a different position at a different school, I did love my job and felt that it was an important one; that I was making a difference by encouraging students to continue to educate themselves by reading for enjoyment, and for information, and, most importantly, to question what they read. Guess that entire statement really dates me!!

So sorry for the errors! (and it has been 30 year) School was out yesterday & I look forward to actually being able to comment in a timely fashion!

I loved my work (special education, working with children) but I did not always love my job. Sometimes I hated my job.

I wanted to be a teacher, but repeated grades, dropped out, worked 25 secretarial jobs before returning to university and earning my teaching credentials.

Teaching fit me like a glove.

So looking back, this is my list of past jobs:

Student
Summer camp Counsellor
Short stint at nursing
Secretary
Teacher
Standup Comedian
Motivational Speaker
Gardener
Student Teacher Supervisor
Author

There are so many other jobs I would like to try if I get to come back for a second life.

Piano player in Bob Seger's band
Vet who makes house calls
Cold Case Detective
Song Writer
Contractor

I feel good about my chosen career.

It was a long time coming.

Most of the time I detested my job as an auditor with the State of NY. I made good friends but the work was less than inspiring. As a single mother I needed the job and was glad to have it. However the NYS pension has allowed me to follow my passion in retirement. I now spend my time as a quilt artist and love every minute.

Why is the assumption made that a person who follows a "vocation", a job or field that they feel drawn to, is being self indulgent? I was drawn to the fashion industry as a young girl, went to school for it and worked in it all my working life. Indeed, in my retirement I am still working in it as a niche etailer (translation: I sell on eBay.) I love clothing and have loved working with it, although certainly I have not loved every job. Some things I did were more fulfilling than others, and some job situations more pleasant. But there have also been sacrifices made to follow this career path. I made a long commute most of my working life, which meant I saw less of my family. I made less, being in a female dominated career, than I might have made in another field. I think many who "do what they love" make similar sacrifices. I would not trade a day of my working life...although I do always wonder what it might have been like to be a librarian. I love books too.

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