In Defense Of Doing What You Love

Friday, July 31, 2015

It was the dog days of summer in North Carolina. I was sitting in my grandparents' red kitchen , looking out the window and watching the trees sway in the wind as the sun sank in the sky. There were only a few minutes of daylight left, and we wanted to enjoy every last second. My parents drifted off for a walk in the woods, and my grandma and brother went for a quick swim in the pool. My grandpa moved into his recliner, and I decided to stay and talk for a while. Because the best conversations tend to happen as the sky turns black.

And this is where my story begins.

My grandpa is an interesting man. Over the years, his life has seemingly revolved around his 5 loves; animals (he was a veterinarian), antiques, gardening, restoring historic homes and my grandmother. When he's not preoccupied with one of the things listed above, he's a pretty stellar storyteller. 

So there I sat, in the now empty kitchen that was full of laughter and talking only moments ago. Seizing the lack of interruptions, my grandpa began to tell me about when he went to college and how he met my grandma and the restoration of his historic home. My favorite story he told was about finding his broken down home that he has now fully restored. He told me how he slowly took it apart and moved it across the state and painstakingly rebuilt it. 

As I listened, I couldn't help but think how great it would be to live a life full of passion and the things you love most. After voicing my thoughts, my grandpa laughed at my naivete. "Anybody can live like this. You just have to know what you love, and decide that's what you're going to do. You have to have a dream, even if it's crazy. Just be crazy enough to follow it. When I took this house apart, it sat in my front yard for 5 years, but I knew that I was going to rebuild it one day. Everyone thought I was crazy. Hell, I even thought I was crazy, but I did it. No matter where you are in life, you need to make sure that you're doing what you love. If not, you need to change what you're doing. And just remember that doing what you love isn't as easy as people make it seem. Building this house from the ground up was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I loved every second of it, and I think that's what it's all about." 

Let's get real, the phrase "do what you love" is terribly overused in the 21st century. Call me a skeptic, but I've grown up in the era of insane college tuition rates, a terrible economy and the realization that money isn't everything in life, but it's very helpful to have.

"Do what you love," they say, "But don't be a journalist or a teacher or a musician. Oh, photographers don't make much either. Actually, avoid liberal arts completely. Maybe a science would be worthwhile?" The idea of doing what you love is now simply another cliché. It's something that's become a tumblr quote and seemingly a joke. It's something that shouldn't be a priority. It's to the point where doing what you love is rarely seen as logical in this day in age. So when my grandpa told me to do what I love, I hardly knew what to say.

After having a truth bomb dropped on me,  I decided to go for a swim and think about what he said later on. Or never. Preferably never. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why have we let doing what we love become something that we only do occasionally?  Why is it some farfetched dream to love what you do? Why am I so skeptical? 

I get it. There's not many people who honestly have the job of their dreams. Nobody wakes up every morning ecstatic to be alive and ready to spend the day at work. Life's never going to be as perfect as an Instagram account makes it seem. That being said, why are we so discouraging of those who want to do what they truly love? Looking back at my favorite memories, none of them involved mass riches or exotic destinations. They involved people. They involved laughing around a wooden kitchen table and dirty feet and messy hair and sparkling eyes.

It's true, being a photographer doesn't always pay the bills. Journalism seems to be dying out. Teachers are underpaid. The economy is scary, but what else is new? What if you wake up one day and realize that life has passed you by? You never got to write your first book or take pictures of the sun setting behind the mountains. You never let yourself dream like you used to do when you were young because dreamers are said to be "unrealistic and irrational". You never got to see the northern lights or live in a big city. If you wake up one day and realize that you spent a life never doing what you love, it will kill you. Don't let this happen.

I'm not proposing that you quit your job tomorrow and start travelling around the world. I'm not advising you to spontaneously change your college major or revamp your entire life. You may never be able to make a living doing solely things you love. You may never be the next Taylor Swift or an award winning actor. In fact, chances are that the stars won't align for you like they did for Bill Gates or Steve Jobs when they dropped out of college. On the contrary, you're probably not going to be that person you see on Instagram who spends 360/365 days a year tanning on a different beach while drinking green smoothies. You're probably going to have to work. You're probably going to have times where money is tight. You're going to have days where you hate what you do, but don't forget about doing the things that make you happy and making time for the things you love. 

"Do what you love" is the one of the most ridiculous pieces of advice you'll ever hear, but it's so ridiculous that it's worth taking into consideration. Because if you spend your life doing things you despise, are you actually living? So get out there. Take nice pictures, write inspiring things, never stop creating. And most importantly, don't quit your daydream. Because doing what you love is actually very important, even though the whole world is trying to tell you otherwise.

"Let's do what we love and do a lot of it."

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7 Happy Thoughts

  1. Katherine, you can always draw me in to your posts and I read every word. What you have to say is so spectacular and I can connect to it so well. I wish we could be "real life" friends, haha! This was so accurate. Do what you love will bring you, if not happiness, at least most days of joy. There will be so much hardship, but you won't be dying with regrets and an unfulfilled life. Beautiful, Katherine!

  2. I want to write this long comment about what an amazing writer and communicator you are, how inspiring and authentic you are, and how spectacular a person you are, but I do not even know how to put it all into words! So I will leave with this, keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep being yourself! Missing talking to you very much!!

  3. Katherine, you've done it again. Once again you've written a beautiful post about a very important topic - I was completely absorbed in this post while reading it (and once again I hate myself for not being a native English speaker because I can't express myself properly :( ). I've never thought about the phrase "do what you love" like that before. And yes, since when did doing what you love become a thing you don't do very often. Let's do lots of what we love. Thanks for an amazing post!!

  4. Heck yes. So beautifully said, Katherine. ♥

  5. This is beautifully written Katherine! I wish I was as a creative thinker like you! x

  6. Wow. I'm not sure how you're doing it but I'm at awe at the beauty of your words and - as cliché as saying it is - the wisdom you own beyond your years. Assuming you love writing: please never stop doing and sharing it. It's a gift to the world. And your grandpa sounds like an awesome man.

    1. You are 100% sunshine and happy thoughts. This comment made me seriously so happy. Your kind words mean so much to me,, but I must admit that I'm not sure how wise I really am. I'll have to get back to you after my first week of college. :-)


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