"Do what you love" Part 1

When you are in high school, everyone tells you that you should pick your career (and subjects) based on "what you love".

This is terrible advice.

Why? I'LL TELL YOU. Here you go:

  1. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU LOVE YET. I know you love art and music and drama. Of course you do. Because those subjects are FUN and allow you to be CREATIVE and you get heaps of ATTENTION. Those things are awesome. Math blows, it's not cool and it's hard and you don't get to paint mustaches on yourself. BUT there are a LOT of other career and job options out there that you don't even know exist yet, because they are not taught in schools, or the applications of what you learn in school to a particular career path are not clear. Unless you have a parent or friend working in certain professions, you probably won't even know they exist. For example, when I was 23 (note, I was out of school, with an undergrad AND a master’s degree - and I still had no idea), I was explaining to a friend some of the areas I was interested to work in, the type of work I find most engaging, and the kind of environments where I thrive. He was like, "yeah cool, so you want to do management consulting?". And I'm like "no but srsly what is that". HOW DID I MAKE IT TO 23 AND NOT KNOW THIS? I'll tell you how. Because I don't have family or friends working in this area, and because school and uni did not explain to me that this was an option. Or I was living under a rock, hard to say, not the point.

  2. NOT EVERYONE CAN BE AN ARTIST OR A MUSICIAN OR AN ACTOR. I bet you that in high school, like 50% of people said that they wanted to go to acting school. There was probably that one girl who decided to move to New York and planned to get their big break while performing on Broadway and the casting director of Orange is the New Black just happens to be in the audience. The crazy thing is, when we tell young people they "can be anything they want to be", this encourages thinking where the actual difficulty of following one of these career paths is discounted, and a cognitive bias develops where you go "no but if J.Lo can dance her way out of the projects, so can I!". <Incorrect buzzer> No. No you (probably) can't. Because actually dancing your way out of the projects normally requires a) luck, b) pre-existing connections in the industry, and c) talent. In that order. Sometimes only one of these, but rarely just talent, and TALENT IS NOT REQUIRED. Hello, have you *seen* Kate Hudson? The mistake in thinking here is that the world is a meritocracy, and that if you work hard and want something badly enough, you will get it. This CAN be the case, but it is not the norm. What happens in 99% of cases (stats TBC), is that our friend from earlier who moved to New York actually did a couple of off-Broadway plays, attended mayyyybe by the cousin-of-the-casting-director-of-Orange-is-the-New-Black. Aside from the fact that no casting director would listen to their lame cousin anyway, maybe our friend is not even THAT talented. And they have no contacts and it's realllllly hard to network effectively when you have no "in". So our friend gets a job at Hooters to pay the rent, and perseveres for FAR too long, waiting to "get lucky". Eventually, broke and disillusioned, our friend moves back home, studies again, and then becomes a drama teacher. Our friend is now in her 30s with a tonne of debt, but here's the thing - being a drama teacher is a great job, and our friend probably actually will get satisfaction out of it (if she lets herself). But guess what? Our friend feels like a failure, because she didn't meet her own (and society's) unrealistic expectations. Fuck that, what a shit way to feel, especially when it's based on a bunch of incorrect assumptions about the way we should think, and what constitutes success.

  3. WHY DO YOU EVEN NEED TO LOVE YOUR JOB THO? When you are told that you *should* love your job, it fucking sucks when you then don't. Of course, you shouldn't be in a situation where you hate yourself and your life because of your job, but it actually doesn't matter if you don't love it. Think about how many jobs there are in the world. I bet you that a vast number of those jobs are not particularly rewarding, and not particularly interesting or "fun". That's cool though. Until we hit that sweet spot (when the robots can do the jobs for us but before they become our silver overlords), SOMEONE has to do these jobs. It sucks that if your job is canning asparagus in a factory (don't laugh, that was legit my nana's job for a bit), you somehow may feel like a failure because you don't love your job. That's unfair. Everyone's job is important and your self-worth is not based on your career.

The key takeaway from this is, it's a pretty shitty thing for parents and schools (and society in general) to tell you that you should "do what you love" when you are a young person. In some cases, this can work out. But a tonnnnne of the time it doesn't. Because asking kids to DECIDE what they love in high school or even college is unfair. And this decision is underpinned by false assumptions about the nature of work, happiness, and success.

It's not your parents fault, or your school’s fault, they THINK they are helping you by saying this. It kind of makes sense intuitively - like, doing what you love = happiness. And they want you to be happy. So the problem is then the idea that CAREER you love = happiness. But happiness (or satisfaction) can, and should, be derived from so much than your career. It's so much pressure and stress to think about defining your life by your work. It's also a mistake to think that you only will have ONE career in your life, or that everyone has ONE calling that they should strive towards, and that everything is just leading up to a point where you "have things figured out". But that's another topic.

Next up: now that you know WHY this is a shitty way to think, let me tell you HOW you can work towards figuring out what you might want to try from a career perspective, without setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Worst case (or best, depending on your requirements), there's a job going at the asparagus canning factory now that Nana has quit.

Being unemployed blows

Deliver something on your first day