Or is that belief a cliché?
There’s a lot to be said about callout culture––but I personally enjoy feeling like I’m being called out by articles I stumble across. I like the idea of being spoken to and confronted about my bad habits. It makes me feel seen.
That feeling last came quite recently, in fact, courtesy of a Man Repeller article. Entitled “The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles,” the piece unpacked the unspoken pressure to turn passions into projects. Now, I know that article doesn’t speak to everyone, but it certainly did to me.
Since childhood I’ve been making income out of interests––or at least I started planning to do so at a very young age. When I realized I loved making exam reviewers (I’m a geek, sue me), I formatted them prettily so I could charge classmates who wanted copies. I fell in love with fashion and writing in my last year of high school, and found that four years later, I’d turned it into my career. K-Pop was a childhood hobby-turned-escape from work and then it became my side-hustle––one successful enough to float me through a couple of months of unemployment. Oh, and let’s not forget my sporadic earring reselling business. That stemmed from a hobby, too.
See now why that Man Repeller piece drove me into late night introspection? From those hours of lying restless and awake, though, came another thought. If I’m doing the things I love for a living, why do I constantly feel like I’m being worked to the bone? This isn’t what Mark Twain and the cheesy quotes my relatives share on Facebook taught me!
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If there’s anything I’ve learned from being this industry, it’s that you need to love the work to last. No job is easy, but publishing? It’s time-consuming and entails plenty of physical work. Between daily deadlines and new headlines, it’s hard to keep churning out content. It’s not like the pay is splendid in this country, either. You need to love this game to stay in it, but loving it doesn’t promise that every day on the job is going to feel like a walk in the park.
And I don’t just mean that there will be hurdles and hard days. Regardless of what you do, those will exist. Even worse than those, though, are the days when you just don’t want to get out of bed. Those strange moments when you feel just a little less passionate about your passion.
An officemate shared a post on Facebook a few months back. It was a piece about Mark Cuban, a billionaire featured on Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs. Her grand statement was this: “One of the great lies of life is ‘follow your passions.'” It was bewildering. I’d always thought that officemate of ours, a social media specialist and all-around badass boss lady, was in her line of work because it was what she craved to do. That’s what her actions told me, at least: she was always driven, ever in control, eager to work. And yet, there it was, spotlighted on her Facebook post. The clear separation between the things she does for money and the things she does for herself, the division between hustle and hobby. Despite respecting that divide, she seemed a lot happier than I felt at the time.
Then it hit me: there is danger in pursuing a career too dear to your heart. In cases like mine, work starts feeling like work because of the self-inflicted expectation to do more and do better. Doing what you love might not feel like work on the daily, but there are moments it feels like more than just a job. There are times it feels like your center of gravity. Making your interests and income, two things heavy with importance separately, into synonyms? It’s a risky game.
If you were to ask me about my biggest fear, it wouldn’t be a zombie apocalypse or falling off a building. I’m scared of underperforming the act I thought I performed best. Passion meet pressure. Doesn’t everything look out of focus when you look at it too close?
Art Alexandra Lara