“I could never work a typical 9-5”
“Ew, you’re basically a corporate zombie.”
“If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”
It seems that in recent years, there is a large shift of distaste towards traditional occupations. We are berated with this notion that the not-so-glamorous 9-5 jobs should not be your goal. They should be avoided at all costs. If you scroll across TikTok or Instagram, we are flooded with instances of creators who are becoming financially independent by doing what they love, and, in turn, we too feel as if we must follow the herd in doing the same.
And this is nice, right? That our generation has the luxury to support dreams and aspirations that vary so widely from traditional methods of income generation.
I enjoy this concept of doing what you love. I believe that doing what you love provides feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction. It gives us purpose.
It makes us feel alive.
But, I would like to provide a little pushback to this notion of undertaking what you love as an occupation. In Emma Chamberlain’s hit podcast Anything Goes, she discusses this very topic in an episode titled “the truth about being self employed.”
Her point is essentially this:
When what you love is also the means by which you make a living, you play a dangerous game. You see, what you love slowly transforms into a responsibility. No longer are you able to enjoy the thing that gives you pleasure; but rather, you are forced to do it because otherwise you would not be able to survive. Those very passions become obligations.
Even further (specifically for those who are looking for a self-employed life), you can never truly “log off.” You are plagued by the constant anxiety of doing something or bettering your craft in some way. Therefore, there really is no work-life separation. You are in a perpetual state of working all the time, where the lines blur between your personal and professional life.
Therefore, while it may seem attractive to dictate your own success, you feel burdened by the fact that only you can dictate the amount of success/failure. You become the cause and the blame. This can be detrimental to your mental health.
And here’s my stance on traditional jobs.
Yes, doing something you hate for 40 hours a week while you grow old will most definitely make a sane man mad. But, doing something you can tolerate, now that is a different story.
Because here’s the thing.
While working a job you can tolerate, you are able to accomplish so much. For one, you are given a schedule and are able to integrate that into your daily routine; freeing yourself from the worry of constantly planning each day, week, or month. This will also free up mental capacity to worry about the more important things in life.
Then, many traditional jobs provide a consistent stream of income that gives you the financial freedom to explore your passions, travel, or enjoy life. There is an unnecessary romanticization of the struggling artist. Why struggle? Why not pursue your passions in a sustainable manner? Again, this steadiness will relieve you from unnecessary stress of worrying about making payments.
Therefore, while mundanity can grow tiresome it can also be a necessary stepping stone to living a happy and fulfilling life.
I would like to clarify that I don’t believe that no one should ever make a career out of their passions. I believe that it is amazing if you are able to, but it is an unnecessary expectation for everyone. Don’t feel pressured to pursue a career in something you love. That is too much stress. We feel as if we aren’t doing life right if we are working a traditional job when that is not the case. So, if you take anything away from this article, take this:
It is okay to be working a traditional job. Whatever fits your goals, lifestyle, journey, etc. No one can tell you what will be the best option for you.