Thoughts on “loving what you do”

Just another day at the office

Every once in a while some sanctimonious sick son of a bitch will try to feed me this unpalatable line of disgusting crap:

“You gotta love what you do.”

Usually this this oh-so-useful piece of advice is offered by likes of playboy Hugh Hefner, eligible bachelor Derek Jeter, billionaire / airline owner / adventurer Richard Branson, etc. You know, the “make their own rules” sort of people.

Yeah, if my job title was “adventurer” then I might be a tad happier, too.

For most of us, the harsh realities of employment are, shall we say, a skosh less than “ideal.” In my case, the trip to dirty whore didn’t just happen overnight. It took a little bit of time, patience, good old fashioned luck and a healthy dose of deceit.

I’ll try not to bore you with the nitty gritty details, since you’d probably pass out and hit your head, and nobody wants that. I’m a webmaster by trade. I had a hard time finding work after moving to a small town. I ended up taking a job (on 09/11/2001 no less) that turned out to be heavy phones and heavy sales and just a little bit of technical duties thrown in to maintain the illusion that I was actually a “webmaster.” I wasn’t. It was my first exposure to the position of whore. But I was desperate for work and had no other choice.

I did some side work for a company and long story short, they needed a “webmaster.” (You’ll see the reason for the quotes soon enough.) I interviewed for the job of “webmaster.” The job of “webmaster” was offered. I accepted the offer and put in my two-week notice with my current employer. It was a very hopeful and exciting time for me.

At that point, I was pretty much committed to switching jobs. It would have been hard if not impossible to undo.

Before I started work at the new company I was brought in for a meeting. I was shown the operation, met the team, and then given some training. I quickly realized that something was seriously askew. I was being trained on the product line, how to answer phones, operation of the cash register, and retail floor operations. In other words, absolutely nothing to do with actual “webmastering.”

I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. I left the building, sat in my car in the parking lot and threw up. Good times to be sure. And it has been all downhill from there.

Now, five years later, I’m still here, still in this small town, and my hate and despair is palpable. I’m totally miserable being a phone bitch, talking to customers, and working as a salesperson. Yes, I do have some “webmaster” duties heaped on top of my regular bullshit, but it is nothing I “love.” It mearly represents additional stress and pressure on top of the daily secretarial things that have to get done.

There is no point to this post. I’m just having one of those days. Now you know why I always call myself a “whore.” My loose definition is getting paid to do that which you hate. I got that covered.

I guess my main beef with “you gotta love what you do” is that it implies that I choose this, that this is somehow what I want. I’ll bet millions and millions of workers would tend to disagree, even these days when a job, any job, is as valuable as a gold nugget.

15 responses

  1. : ( I know how it feels to be in a job that makes you feel like a whore. I’m sorry youre aren’t doing something that doesn’t make you happy. Even moderately happy.

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  2. I look at the ‘love what you do’ notion in reverse. I am prepared to walk away from any job that I have grown to hate. This has happened twice in my entire life and the walking away did not mean I was necessarily going to find something I loved but it has instantly made my life feel so much better, despite the financial insecurity quitting a job can bring.

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  3. Thanks for the comments. Steven, that actually a beautiful point. That’s the beauty of having nothing to lose. While it may be the bottom of the barrel it also represents a lot of freedom, too. I get that. Hopefully someday the right door will open up for me in this small town. Until then, just like everyone else, I will do what I have to do to make ends meet.

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    1. I hope that door opens right in front of you as soon as possible. One of the jobs I quit was well paid and had real career prospects and I was hanging myself out to dry by leaving – I ended up taking a job cleaning hotels for a while to bring some money in. But I’ve never regretted taking that step. Life is short and happiness is precious. Here’s to finding happiness and losing as much of the unhappy clutter of life as possible.

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  4. My husband does what he loves, but he had to struggle for many years, still has bad days and we pretty much have to stay in Chicagoland for him to keep doing what he loves.

    It’s great for him, but, as you pointed out, that doesn’t happen for everyone. After many years in the workforce, I’ve realized I’m happiest in jobs where I come in at 9 a.m., leave at 5 p.m. and don’t have to think about work when I’m not there. I need to be able to check my personal e-mail from time to time. There needs to be some creative aspect to what I’m doing. I need to be paid in U.S. currency. I require a decent chunk of vacation time. That’s about it.

    The bottom line is that life isn’t all about work. Most of us work too much and we’re all stressed out and pissed off and wishing we could be out doing things with the money we’re busting our asses for. I’m all about a happy medium and I’ve been lucky enough to find that balance in my current position.

    Wow, that was a meandering comment if ever I’ve written one.

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    1. I’ve learned through osmosis to let job shit flee from my existence during the off hours. That sort of ability just naturally evolves from the situation. It’s like employment Darwinism.

      “Life isn’t all about work.” I may quote you on that. 🙂

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  5. […] shoutabyss on Thoughts on “loving what… […]

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  6. Is this when the concept of “Holy Time” began? That would be a positive negative. Or something like that. 😉

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    1. Could be. Could be. Holy Time developed as an involuntary survival instinct. And it’s the only time of the week where I actually love what I do. No work or boss in sight. The holiest of holies.

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  7. […] Self Reblog: Thoughts on “loving what you do” […]

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  8. Okay, I know it always seems like I deliberately stake out the opposite territory on any argument (to a degree, such is my perverse nature), but I really do believe in doing what you love, and that a person should do what he or she loves.

    Now, i get that you hate your job (at least in 2009), and I’m not gonna try to tell you that you don’t (I’m not THAT kind of asshole). But I also see that you write books, which I assume is not done solely to supplement your income, but rather stems from some kind of compulsion (which in some circumstances could be called “love”).

    You might regard that logic as a bit of a cheat, since it doesn’t address the underlying problem of your day job. However, depending on how you look at it, you could say that your job (at least originally) afforded you the opportunity to do what you love.

    I don’t think there’s any right way to look at the world, For me, though, it’s important to see it in a way that makes me happy. I’m not talking about that brittle, false-positivity, “God-Will-Provide” attitude, but a recognition of life for the joyous parade of fun (and yes, sorrow) that it is.

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    1. 2009 was 70% into the Decade of Despair and may have colored my thinking. But look! Someone on Slate is basically agreeing with me. I call that the warm fuzzies.

      One minor correction: I don’t write books. I write book titles. Like Society of Assholes and How To Destroy Your Employees. I hear the book portion consists of considerably more words.

      The Decade of Despair has officially ended and I’m now living the geek dream of working full-time from home and being the sole breadwinner. I lived through it and come out the other side. Dare I say it? Just like poop.

      I still have a low opinion of bosses (who I deem the weakest link in any operation) and the way our society handles the employment paradigm. That will probably never go away.

      One final thought: If everyone on the planet was only required to do that which they “love” the world would implode. Like the great Judge Smalls of Caddyshack once said, “The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

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      1. “The world needs ditchdiggers, too.” That’s what I’m prepared to tell my boys when they bring up the possibility of not going to college. I love that line so much I used it in a recent “Headlines.” Great minds.

        Just the book titles? Well, hell–that’s the hardest part. Take some Faulkner Titles: “The Sound and the Fury,” “Absolom, Absolom,” “As I Lay Dying.” –Hell, they practically write themselves.

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  9. I agree with what you say here.
    But Do What You Love isn’t an end-all. It’s a goal, if that’s how you want to go.
    I’d love to travel the world with a National Geographic photographer in tow, taking pictures of me doing a lot of incredibly stupid things, and living off the proceeds.
    But I’d also really like to have heat and medical insurance.

    So I suck it up in an office 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year, so that on occasion, I get to throw myself off/down/into something life threatening. Or see a good concert. Those are the things I love, and where my life draws meaning from.

    And when work does get too soul-sucking, I do look for something else.

    Also, the person that wrote the slate article was a frustrated pretentious asshat who I think fundamentally misunderstands the exhortation to do what you love.

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  10. This is one of those posts that I’m afraid to “like,” because I don’t like that you’re stuck in that. I “like” in the sense of agreeing.

    About a year, year and a half, two years ago, it occurred to me that I was spending a lot of money buying cd’s, attending concerts, hosting concerts, contributing to fund-raising efforts for musicians (and also buying hand-crafted jewelry, etc. from others who were ‘doing what they love,’) when I started to feel like a sucker.

    I’d listen to this music and the stories at concerts that were against the evil empire that I was somehow using every ounce of my creative energy to justify drawing a salary from. I started to feel a bit resentful, to be honest.

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