Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A dream job is a pipe dream

Over the weekend, a friend of mine posted a rant on Facebook about the infamous Jim Carrey commencement speech.  (You can watch and/or read it here if you are so inclined.) The point she was most upset about was his theory that you should do what you love.

It sounds good in theory, right? But ... is it realistic? My friend says, "no," and I tend to agree with her. Here's her rant in all it's glory.

I was raised in a home where I was told I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be. After phases of wanting to be a school bus driver (because I thought it'd be cool to just drive around all day ... that's what they do, right?) and a teacher (I just wanted to write on the board), I settled on writing. This didn't come as much of a surprise to my mom as I'd been telling her stories about my friends since I could talk and actually have friends. When I went to a summer college class exploratory program one summer in elementary school, I wrote a children's book. All through junior high and high school, I wrote poems. In college, I joined the newspaper staff and also wrote fan fiction on the side. So, yes, it seems I've always been writing.

After earning my degree in mass communication (aka journalism), I took off for Texas to start my first of three newspaper jobs. I worked at two daily publications in the Lone Star State before returning to Iowa for a job at a weekly. I loved journalism. I enjoyed being a part of a community and telling the stories of the people in that community. After nine years of this, I realized I wasn't feeling challenged. In fact, I was getting burned out. Fortunately, I knew there were other ways to continue writing without being in newspapers. I ventured into marketing writing. This was a huge jump from journalism, and I'll admit, I wasn't very good at it. I tried corporate communications, but that wasn't really for me either.

Today, I earn my living working insurance claims. I'm technically in subrogation, but that would take a long time to explain, so we'll just say I work claims. It's nothing I ever thought I'd be doing. Insurance is definitely not one of my passions. Is anyone passionate about insurance? Honestly. Even though I suppose you could argue I'm still using my communications skills, insurance would have never crossed my mind when I was in college. It's not my dream job, but it's a good job. It challenges me, and more importantly, it's stable.

I guess I didn't mention that I was laid off from two of my communications jobs. Both layoffs happened in the span of seven months. I took it very personally and began to think maybe I was just a terrible writer.  Looking back, I realize the style of writing being requested of me was just not my strength.  And, honestly, I'm happier where I am now.

How can that be?

Well, for one, I have more financial freedom. There's no way I could afford to do half the things I do now (concerts, trips, sporting events, etc.) if I was still in my communications jobs. They just didn't pay very well. And my newspaper days didn't leave me very many free evenings.

Secondly, I am enjoying writing as a hobby. There was a 10-year span between my second and third self-published books. Why? Because my newspaper jobs zapped all of my creativity and left little time for writing fiction.

I used to worry about not working in communications, and sometimes thought I was wasting my degree, but not anymore. I don't have to love my job to love my life. I'm not saying no one gets their dream job and gets to earn a living doing something they love. I just don't think that's a reality for everyone.

What do you think?
Are you doing what you love?


  1. AMEN! If everyone only did what they love, there's be no sanitation workers, no food service employees, maybe not even very many teachers or nurses. It all sounds nice, but it's not realistic. I think people SHOULD pursue their passions, but not by sacrificing security and a stable income.

  2. I have worked in insurance my entire adult life and I can say without a doubt it is not my dream job but is what I am good at and it is a good job.
    If I were following my heart I would teach but seriously can't afford it. Or refinish furniture but again who can afford it?
    So my 2 cents, do what you are good at and like well enough to make a living and may your passion your other job.

  3. I am passionate about teaching, but everything that goes along with it has always sucked a bit of the passion away. It balances out I suppose. I always knew I wanted to teaching about teaching, but I'm not in the position to do that right now. Who knows...

    I think telling people to "do what they love" is a recipe for disaster. Love is for hobbies. That's why people are graduating college with no marketable skills. Practicality has to factor in somewhere.

  4. I would say that I don't quite so strongly disagree with Jim Carrey's speech, but I do think that there needs to be a balance! I think it's important to try to find your passion and to try to find a career/job that fits, but you have to be realistic. I think you provide an excellent example!! You CAN get burned out doing the thing that you "love" if it's both your job AND your hobby. Sometimes, it's just as important (if not more so) to have a job that pays the bills and pursue your passions in your free time.


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