“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” they say. That has proven to be a challenging rule of thumb to implement, in my opinion. Since the time I was young, I’ve wanted to be a singer/songwriter. As I aged, I pursued the craft in a variety of ways. I performed in county fairs, I participated in after school productions, I joined chorus and musical theatre in high school, and I competed at county and state level competitions. It was the only thing I felt successful in—the only thing that truly felt like my calling.
After graduation, the application of the craft became more difficult. It seemed as though outlets were less commonplace, and there certainly weren’t any positions I could find/was qualified for in terms of earning a living with it. I had to find a way to support myself and make music in my downtime.
At first it was easy. I held an extremely part time position and I lived at home. As time progressed, though, I moved out and my day jobs became increasingly demanding—understandably so, as the pay was proportionate to the amount of effort the position required of me, and being financially independent isn’t cheap.
Every choice felt like an exchange. Longer hours meant more economic freedom, but less time to pursue personal interests; more responsibility meant more opportunity for future growth in the field, but more stress and less mental energy to give to my loved ones at home; and the more satisfied I decided to become at work, the more I felt my old self and her dreams fading away.
It is a great hope of mine, though, that one day our consumer-based economy will shift into something more sustainable for its workers.
I know I can’t blame the job that puts food on my table and a roof over my head for the decimation of a dream; my own lack of initiative is the cause of that. Contrary to what it may sound like in this article, I am very grateful for my work and the opportunities it has given me.
To play devil’s advocate, I must also acknowledge that personal motivation can be a difficult thing to muster with how much time I spend in my work role—waking up early, getting ready, commuting, being “on” for the next ten hours of the day, commuting home, preparing dinner and cleaning up, decompressing for an hour or so, then getting ready for bed so I can rinse and repeat the following day. I spend more time with my coworkers than I do my family. There’s barely any room for me in my life because of the time I spend affording to live it.
I feel that my life is at somewhat of a crossroads, and I have to choose between who I thought I’d be and who life has shaped me into. It’s much easier to choose the life I already have, but most of us know that the easy choice isn’t always the right one. Additionally, the right choice can morph over time. If my dreams and I change together, I’m ok with that. I’m privileged to be able to customize my occupational pursuits.
It is a great hope of mine, though, that one day our consumer-based economy will shift into something more sustainable for its workers. Something with a more substantial work/home life balance. Something where it’s easier to be both the singer and the businessperson.
An economy in which more skills and trades are celebrated so that maybe, just maybe, we can do what we love after all.
Amy Shull lives in Lacey and has contributed photographs for Works in Progress.