When "The Onion" Rings True: Following Your Passion
Did you happen to see this article recently: "Find the Thing You're Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights and Weekends for the rest of your life?"
It was an op-ed in my favorite go-to sarcasm journal: The Onion from March 2013. I kind of love the article because it is pretty amazingly sarcastic about a very real issue for my generation- the changing tides of the notion of "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow." Here's an excerpt that's particularly amusing when read as a humor article:
I can’t stress this enough: Do what you love…in between work commitments, and family commitments, and commitments that tend to pop up and take immediate precedence over doing the thing you love. Because the bottom line is that life is short, and you owe it to yourself to spend the majority of it giving yourself wholly and completely to something you absolutely hate, and 20 minutes here and there doing what you feel you were put on this earth to do.
I'm sure many of us have actually had similar thoughts. I read the article amused and then thought- unfortunately, this can feel very, very true. As a creative person, I've felt this pressure very acutely that the only way to follow what I truly love is to do it in a manic way in my free time. This blog has been a tremendous, rewarding project but it has not been without its late nights, sacrifices, and piles of unanswered daunting questions. It is not my first priority, my second, or my third, and it's often a choice I have to make that takes me away from other very important things.
But I keep coming back to the Steve Martin and Austin Kleon of it all - that you've got to be so good they can't ignore you and that you can't wait until you know who you are to get started. These are two guiding principles of why, despite just wanting to just pack it in tonight, I make myself write because I know it's in my heart and because I'm committed to doing it. I know that I'll be proud of myself when the post goes out, having accomplished something small but intentional and going in the right direction. I don't do it because anyone pays me - I do it because I know it's taking me in that right direction.
After thinking about the Onion article a lot, I've decided I want to rephrase it. I think what the article says is partially true, but I don't think the underlying desperation and hopelessness has to be of a life where you can only live your passions in those squirreled away 20 minute pockets. Yes - I think we live in a world where you need to tackle your passions in your spare time and yes - that will mean you may have to do those things for free for awhile and that other parts of your life will sometimes need to be juggled in ways you may have never imagined.
But through my own experience- I really believe the below to be true. Especially for my generation- I think the times of "do what you love and the money will follow" need to be amended for the digital world. It's do what you love, on your own time, for free, with courage and curiosity, and both the meaning and money will follow. I think it's possible - otherwise I probably would have just gone and watched Arrested Development instead of writing this post.
So here's my version - amended from The Onion: