But Alison Green says it better: don’t follow your passions. I especially liked this part, because it so underscores how out-of-touch it is to say that you should “follow your dreams”:
“Do what you love” is privileged advice that ignores the fact that the majority of the world’s population works to get food and housing, not for emotional or spiritual fulfillment. And even among the most socioeconomically privileged piece of the population—the segment that this advice is usually targeted to—it causes an awful lot of angst and even shame over not loving your career when people are telling you that you should.
I would go a step further: I bet that the majority of college-educated Americans go to work because it provides a paycheck, with which they can buy a home, put food on the table, and put clothes on the kids’ backs. (As my dad always says, “That’s why they call it work.”)
I’ve done a lot of very interesting work since graduating from law school, but it’s been sporadic, comes without benefits, and at least once a year leaves me furiously chasing the next opportunity. To some people, it’s glamourous – how many people can say that PBS set up a studio in their living room for the purpose of interviewing their fabulous selves? – but it’s stressful, unnerving, and inconsistent. So I’m here to tell you that unless your dreams include eating Ramen noodles (without the meat-containing sauce packets), don’t “follow your dreams” – or rather, follow your dreams on the weekends. Or after work. Or if you’re married to someone who can pay all the bills. Because no one pays you gobs of money to save the world or be happy.