Thursday, June 13, 2013

Work to Live or Live to Work?

I want to be a...

When we're looking at the world from the backseat window of our parent's car, the world is our proverbial oyster, "What do we want to be when we grow up?" We try our futures on like costumes. I want to be a ballerina, no. A scientist. No. A Rock N' Roll Star!

No one says, I want to grow up and hate my job. Yet, as adults, many of us do just that. We work to live, not the other way around.

Then there's those select few who, even if it wasn't what they thought they'd do, love their work. I've had a job like this. It came out of left field, a job I thought would bore me to tears, but ended up being my favorite job of all time. Why? Because it mentally challenged me and because the people I worked with were pleasant and fun to be around. But was working in a college financial aid office what I was meant to do?
If I'm going to keep my head in the clouds, at least there's a restaurant up here.

My personal goal has always been to have a job I enjoy- didn't care what it was, if I enjoyed the hours at work, I was thrilled. Most of the time, this meant a more enjoyable job over a higher paying one. Nowadays, this philosophy doesn't always help. My resume is a potpourri ranging from social worker to custom art framer to waitress. There's no clear-cut path there. My experience is all zig-zagged- less like an arrow and more like the haphazard way a wasp makes its way through your house- everyone's ducking and god only knows where it'll land. For some reason, employers don't always want to pay top-dollar for that level of expertise. Hm? But now that I have a family, I can't always have my cake in the shade. My choices don't just affect my weekend but the lives of 3 tiny people.

Last year, I decided to be a writer. Through the past 11 months, I have learned a lot about myself and have finally realized what I'm meant to do. It was there the whole time, and until I was 33, I didn't see it. However, my days of clocking-in may not be behind me, after all it takes a long time to build a career for any self-employed profession and there are mouths to feed and bills to pay along the way. BUT I truly believe writing is what I meant to do.

How do we know?

Me and sis and our sweet punch embroidery shirts circa 1985ish

When I was a kid, I played the flute. I wanted to play the violin, but not only are violins crazy expensive, but the flute was before the violin in the sample-an-instrument line the summer before I entered the 5th grade. When there's a million kids and you're hungry, sacrifices must be made. (I'm certain my mother has a different memory of this than I do.) In any case, I was pretty decent at playing that stick. I could toot up a storm and I participated in band every year until I was a sophomore in high school. But, did I practice willingly? No. Did I get mad and frustrated and wish I was the Hulk so I could knot that baby up? Yes. Did I ever want to go pro? Bwahahaha! (No.) Was I meant to be a musician? I afraid not.

It's all good. I tried lots of things out, that's the fun of life. Think you'll like photography? Try it out, take a class, live it for a while. Maybe you'll catch that elusive flame inside that burns for one thing and never dies. Or maybe you'll want to shove your camera down the trash compactor because it never catches what you see in your mind's eye. (A sure-fire sign you should keep searching for your true calling.) But don't despair, if you keep trying, you'll find what you're meant to do. And in the meantime, you can have fun sampling. Life is to be lived.

"warning face punch"

The thing that we're meant to do helps us cope with life, it compliments us, and we do it whether or not we get paid to.  We make sacrifices to ensure we have the resources to do it. We make it a priority over and over. And no matter what happens in life, we always come back to that one thing. And it's not always the thing that we want it to be. We have to be honest with ourselves, which is sometimes the hardest part. Because if we try to force ourselves to be something we're not, we'll never be truly happy.

In short, we live to do it and we do it to live.

Writing is not work for me. It is my job. And sometimes it comes easier than others. But no matter what, I look forward to my writing time. I do not look at my day and try to stack everything up in front of my writing so I can't get to it. I don't bang on my computer and wish my writing time was over already. I cherish every moment I have and if someday I'm able to make a living at it, I will thank my lucky stars and God for helping me find my true love.

What do you think? Have you found your calling? Is it worth it to do what you love over making more money? Either way, I'd love to hear from you!

Up, up and awaaaaay!