Finding a job that makes you really happy is a huge godsend. Most of us only have through high school or college to “figure it out,” then we need to make ends meet. Often times, “making ends meet” doesn’t allow time for continued exploration of interests, so we end up doing jobs that simply pay the bills, because that’s just what we have to do.
I remember working in a restaurant in New York and actually really enjoying it at times. But I knew that wasn’t all I wanted to do with my life. I remember working my 9-5 jobs in Arlington and Virginia Beach, but I knew I wasn’t using my talents in a way that brought me satisfaction. As I learned during my 10 year high school reunion, I’m certainly not alone in still trying to create a life that not only meets the needs of my expenses, but also meets the needs of my soul.
During this process, I’ve come to notice that finding contentment in your work– particularly for us creative types– really hinges on these two things: Freedom and consistency.
Freedom and consistency are both heavily linked to time. I am exceedingly aware of the fact that I’m just plain lucky to have the time to be consistent in my writing, as well as free to explore any opportunity that comes my way. Recently, I started working part time for a production company as a talent scout for their unscripted (i.e. reality TV) department. While that’s not exactly what I’ve envisioned for my future, I found the opportunity incredibly compelling and interesting, so I decided to give it a go. Who knows? Maybe this can open the door for writing in the television world! Or maybe I’ll do some freelance producing work and find that to be a fun career! The point is that if I had an inflexible, money-driven full time job, I wouldn’t have the freedom to test the waters of a new creative opportunity.
Freedom also comes in the form of finances. Again, this feeds my gratefulness to be able to explore creative outlets without worrying too much about money. I’m not going to share the ins and outs of that area of my life, but the point is that for once, I don’t need to bring in a full-time salary in order to survive. Thus, that burden is lifted as I pursue my interests. Of course I still feel guilty that I could be contributing to our family more significantly if I simply stuck to a “normal” job, but in this season of life, why not take advantage of the incredible gift of freedom from finances that has been set before me?
I was still working full time in a separate gig when I started this blog and when I was pursuing music in New York. Because my “main” job was my priority, I never got to fully see how far I could push myself in my creative pursuits. Writing or music got about 15% of my energy, because that was all that was left once work ended. Having the freedom to slowly build my income through avenues that I actually enjoy will hopefully eventually lead to a coming together of both my bank account and my happiness. The problem is that it takes time, and the freedom to not get caught up in worrying about immediate financial compensation along the way. Is it possible to have a full time job while pursuing your interests, too? Yes. But it’s a heck of a lot easier when you’re free from the constraints of money.
Like I mentioned, consistency is woven into this freedom of time and basic survival, as well. Writing every single day takes time, which I didn’t have when I had to focus on another job. Writing every single day takes a healthy, calm headspace to create. (Have you ever tried writing while you’re emotional or worried? I find it extremely difficult.) When I was worried about the fact that I wasn’t making money with music or writing, I couldn’t bring myself to pursue them as seriously. Now, I am slowly starting to bring in money with both things…but how? Because I was able to be consistent in doing them without concern of the financial reward, or that I don’t have enough time.
Consistency on my blog has upped my readership significantly. Consistency in auditioning and singing has led to paid gigs. You see, it’s totally possible to reach your dream “job,” but it simply takes a lot of hard work, every single day. I am not sitting around just waiting for something to happen, rather I’m self-motivated and refuse to miss a single day of what I set out to do. Consistency is everything, but that’s what makes it so entangled with freedom. Having the freedom to dedicate hours and hours every day to my writing is what propels this blog forward. The freedom to be consistent not for money, but for experience and enjoyment. I don’t actively “love” taking my butt to Starbucks every day to write, but once I do it, I love it every single time. The rest will follow– I’ve already seen it start to happen. Yet, if I didn’t have the freedom, nor the fortitude to respect my personal vow to consistency, none of this would be happening.
A lot of you must be thinking the same thing I am: Well aren’t you just lucky that you have such freedom, and the means to be consistent in doing something you love? YES. YES A MILLION TIMES OVER. What I would’ve given to see how I could’ve pursued musical theatre in New York if I wasn’t so consumed by a restaurant job to pay the bills. What I would’ve given to write for Generation grannY every single day back when I started it in 2014, when most of my brain power was reserved for my 9-5.
…Which leads me to say this: Taking care of yourself by doing something you don’t particularly love is very respectable. It’s honorable. It’s commendable. It shows a level of maturity and responsibility, proving that you will do what it takes to be an independent, productive member of society. You may even be supporting your family with your income, which is incredibly selfless. I think that far too often, we feel like failures if we don’t love what we do. But no– you’re not failing at all. You’re doing what it takes. That’s AWESOME.
And that’s partly why I wanted to share this. To explain that, yeah, having the freedom to explore your passions consistently can lead to opportunities you didn’t even know you’d be interested in (like my production company job) or allow you to explore what you already love, but it also takes a lot of what most of us don’t have: Freedom and self-motivated consistency. Ask my friends who do what they love, like the one who runs her own nannying service since she’s so passionate about children, while also teaching dance. Ask my friend who owns her own personal styling business. As my friend who just quit her “awesome” job in the TV world to go back to school for medicine. Merging your income and your interests often takes a lot of time and patience– and a huge hustle (i.e. consistency). You’re not failing if you haven’t found a way to make it all work. Keep doing what you love on the side, like I did for so many years, and see where life goes.
Plenty of people love what they do in a non-creative or more corporate world. That’s fan-freaking-tastic. I absolutely love being married to such a person. But if you’re wishing for something more in your job life, don’t get down on yourself. You’re making ends meet, and that’s super commendable. Know that freedom and consistency are a heck of a lot harder when 40 hours of your week are consumed with something else, so it’s not a reflection of your success, nor is it entirely fair. All you can do is just give your interests room to grow, so when the opportunity to pursue them full-steam-ahead does arise, you’re ready. I was ready to write every single day, because I had already written hundreds of posts in my free time over the years (just not daily). I was ready to say “yes” to this production job, because I never stopped using social time as networking growth. I was ready to be cast in a professional theatre show because I kept singing when it wasn’t about the money. Am I crazy lucky to be in this position in life? A million times over, yes.
But anything can happen. Be ready. Stay passionate. And most of all: Be proud of whatever you love, and whatever talents you’ve been given. Even if they never align with a career, they’re a huge part of what makes you so special. It could be working with kids, dancing, painting, or making the rooms in your house look out-of-this-world amazing. Keep doing YOU!