How to “do what you love” and mean it
When I was a kid, and I use the term “kid” loosely because I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I felt this way till a few weeks back, I used to think that doing what you love came naturally. To me, it meant that you would not have to be dragged out of bed or bribed with your little materialistic heart’s desires to get you to do it, and most important of all, your motivation would never die down. Honestly, I thought that doing what you love meant that you would still be doing it regardless of how shitty your life was, even if it was so because of it. Alas, like most things I believed when I was a kid, this turned out to be a gigantic lie, but I was too stubborn and blind to accept it despite repeated lessons my dear life taught me.
FLIRT WITH MANY, FALL IN LOVE WITH ONE
This part is for those of you who sort of, kinda enjoy doing a lot of different activities.
Perhaps because I have massive problems concentrating on a certain task in life generally or just the fact that I’m actually moderately multi-talented but I absolutely lack discipline and determination (both the “fact” and explanation entirely depend on how my self-esteem is feeling at that particular time you ask me this), I’ve tried a lot of different things and I actually enjoy doing quite a few of them. So if I were to make a list of my hobbies, it would definitely include sketching, painting, swimming, writing, singing, making short films etc etc. Now the weirdest part about having tried and enjoyed a lot of such activities, and being somewhat okay without much practice, is that I would automatically include them in my “alternate career options” list. When I was in law school, this list was longer than the Constitution. I would tell all my closest friends about how I may have been sort of thinking about being an XYZ ( insert:artist/musician/ writer/filmmaker/profession of the month). Being the good people that they are, they would encourage me and naively trust me to work towards that dream, every single time. Needless to say, I didn’t actually go through with any of my plans, and except during those heavily intoxicated darkest hours before the sunrise, I would never even bother to ask myself that dreaded “what if?”.
It is very easy for us to get distracted by all the cool things out there. If you’re like me and you love doing a lot of things, it might be better for you to focus and prioritise one or a few of those over all others. Sure, being a “multimedia artist” sounds like you are multi-talented, but it is very easy for that path to make you a jack of all trades. I’ve found that I always make real progress when I focus on a single love of mine. Like monogamy. Everyone nowadays is a jack. Be a master instead.
COMMIT TO YOUR LOVE LIKE YOU TWO GOT MARRIED THIS MORNING
This is for those of you who do know what exactly it is that you love to do.
A lot of the times, we do know what it is that we’re in love with. Or maybe after a lot of experimentations, we can now tell with a degree of certainty that we’re made to do a certain thing. Maybe we’re just a little better at it, maybe it makes us feel good, maybe it adds that dash of meaning to your life. Maybe it is writing, maybe it is dancing, maybe it is math. Whatever it is — if you are lucky enough to have stormed past years of uncertainty, of not knowing what it is that you want to do in life — please, commit to it. Commit to it like you got married to it that day.
It is so easy to make excuses to not do something.
“But who is going to read what I write?”
“How will I make a living out of painting?”
Tell that voice to shut up. You do not have to be a bestseller just to take a few minutes out to write. You do not have to be training for the Olympics to swim a few laps a day. You just have to do what is that you are in love with, and you just have to do it for you. The pleasure that you derive from being really good at something is for you. Everything else will follow.
REMINDER: IDENTIFYING WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO IS NOT ENOUGH
It took me years and years to realise that identifying what you love to do is not enough, you have to continuously work at it. Yes, sometimes it can become work. Those wonderful quotes in Tumblr-esque posts which tell you to do what you love so you won’t ever have to work a day in your life are very motivational, but very basic. In my case, at least. I had to force myself to treat my hobbies as work because I had become someone who knew exactly what she loved doing, but I would never get around to actually doing it otherwise. I kept making excuses about how I had so much else going on, and burying myself in self-generated doubt about how others would probably judge me and how I pretty much sucked anyway, so why even bother trying. I constantly compared my beginning to everyone else’s peak, and that difference in quality would only discourage me instead of motivating me to get there. I know that this may seem a bit absurd to many of you because you do what you love and you love what you do. I am very happy for you. I am not there yet, but thankfully, now I think have reached that point where I at least accept that my earlier state of mind was poisonous and not conducive to any form of growth at all.
Leaving you with some brilliant advice from Tchaikovsky:
If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.
If you’re in the creative profession and you’re looking for advice on how to start living that “creative” life, I have the perfect pep talk for you!