"Love what you do, and you'll never work a day in your life."
I think the people who keep perpetuating this quote are a) people who don't love what they do; b) people who have wealthy patrons/parents who pay their bills, or c) work addicts who don't realize they're even working anymore.
I'm in the aftermath of leaving my other job and navigating that transition. We prayed, we got remarkably clear answers, and I jumped in faith and obedience. We travelled to Nashville to work on what will become our new record. We are back home right now. The school year has started for everyone here, and I'm thinking of last year, and the eleven years before that, when I spent this month setting up my classroom and greeting coworkers I hadn't seen for two months. Excitedly welcoming my students back to my little corner of the building. Finding themes to inspire them, new material, ways to make the learning and teaching my own. Powering through plans and strategies and tasks that I was good at and doing them efficiently.
Instead of leaving each morning to get to a job where someone is expecting me, I am at home. I look around our apartment and talk to myself (literally, out loud, like a crazy person) instead of coworkers or students. I ponder the enigma of how anyone makes a living making music in 2017. I check Facebook for the tenth time. I get lost in a tangled web of to-dos, unsure of where to start. I spend hours on one task, thinking about it way harder than I need to. I resist the urge to clean up the mess in the kitchen instead of figuring out a world I don't fully understand; the cleaning would be faster and more tangible and gratifying (side note: i generally hate cleaning). I am alone. alone. alone. all. day. long.
(...no one ever said I wasn't dramatic.)
This is where the internal litany begins:
"What was I thinking?!"
"I'm terrible at this."
"I have no business doing this."
"Everyone else has this all figured out."
"Was this a mistake?"
"Other people have no problem hustling."
"I never asked to be self-employed!"
Here's the thing. We talk a lot about the idea of calling. Of dream jobs. Of following your passion. And we are sold a picture of being truly happy when we find the thing we're meant to do. We might, indeed, find a deeper and greater happiness when we get close to it. But that happiness comes in spurts. In highs. In successes. We're missing the pages of the dream-job manual where it says "Oh, and by the way, you're probably going to have to do about 47 things you don't like in order to do the thing you really do like." Or in my case, "So you're an independent artist? You are also an accountant and a business manager and a marketing mogul and a stylist and a web designer and a superhuman who doesn't need sleep, right?"
Most importantly, I think the manual needs a giant title page that says, "You might be really bad at this at first."
We see people "following their bliss" (insert all the exasperated emojis here) who make it look effortless - they might show their hard work, but they are killing it and loving it and are naturals at it. I'm waving my flag over here, though - that's not me. I am not there. At least not yet. Just because we're called to something doesn't mean it will come easily.
This is so many of us.
I think of the new mom, who felt compelled to be a mother for so long - and is exhausted and can't find her keys and ate cereal for the fifth meal in a row and can't get her baby to stop crying.
I think of the missionary, who said yes and stepped out of security into purpose and adventure - and is across the sea from everyone he loves and can't yet make jokes in a language that's new to him and has bugs he's never seen before buzzing above his bed and has a stomachache from foreign bacteria and food.
I think of the professional athlete, who has worked hard for years to be able to make a living playing the sport she loves - and is traveling constantly, fighting through soreness and injury, piecing relationships together through phone calls, struggling with changes to her team lineup.
I think of the teacher, who has never wanted any other job from the time he was five and finally has it - who is lesson planning and grading papers at 11 pm, baffled at how to control the unruly students in his classroom, dreading the observation conference after his principal watched him try a new approach and fail miserably, unable to keep up with all the curriculum changes coming down the pike.
Sometimes the negatives do outweigh the positives, and sometimes it really is time to make a change. But sometimes the those negatives are just part of the gig. They, in fact, are work.
It's hard. It's ALLOWED to be hard.
We are allowed to be less than capable at aspects of these callings, without it meaning that we weren't meant to do them after all. In fact, we can give ourselves permission to be frustrated and sad about failures and unpleasant circumstances. Because they come with the territory. They DON'T negate what we heard, what we felt, what compelled us to choose this way of life when we made the choice to pursue it.
Rather than take it all as a sign that we have no business doing it, let's acknowledge that it's hard, and we are going to be bad at parts of it. It's okay. Let's warn the others, too, so that they don't panic when they jump in and find that the water is choppy. Let's invite them to our raft and fight the winds and waves and yucky parts together.
"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." - A League of Their Own
Photo by Hadis Safari on Unsplash