Re-Thinking Identity, Purpose and Income
By Jill Renee Feeler
For some time now, I’ve felt that getting paid for our passions wasn’t practical, at least for the vast majority of us as humans. With ideas that strike me as flawed, I like to take them to the idea to its extremes and imagine what that looks like.
In the case of the popular dogma that you should only do (for a living) what feeds your passions, I easily went to the case of the guys who collect my trash every Thursday morning. I’m oh so grateful they are there, and glad to hear that they actually get paid decently relative to other low-skilled jobs. And, I’m pretty sure they are not passionate about their job. Likewise, I don’t know if our family’s awesome dentist is passionate about teeth, but I’m glad he’s there. I’m pretty sure my hairstylist would rather be with his family or on his dirt bike, but I love how he helps me look my best.
I am simply wondering if asking the world to pay you for your passions is not only unrealistic but also possibly selfish, arrogant and even elitist. Plus, what if you are much better at something other than your passions, and that other thing allows you to live well and/or be financially independent? Of course, it depends on what your personal goals are, too.
For those that make a living from their passions, that is fabulous and I’m happy for each of those in that camp.
But, for those who feel like they are doing something wrong because a) they don’t know what their passions are, b) they aren’t sure how to make a living from their passions and/or c) they are busting their ass trying to make their passions pay the bills and it isn’t happening.
I feel a bit hypocritical because I actually do love what I do, am passionate about helping people and do get paid well for it. But, for the quality of lifestyle I enjoy with my family, my work can’t support that. My hubby’s job provides the bulk of our household income, by a wide margin. He is very successful, works very hard and it is in something that pays very, very well. That didn’t happen by accident. We both went to college, and specifically chose majors and later internships and activities that would further our chances of landing a job in our chosen professions (business). We went to the local university and each lived with our parents until we graduated from undergrad, allowing us to focus on our studies, receive academic scholarships and come out of school debt free.
We weren’t necessarily passionate about business (each of us double majored in business). But in the 90’s we were more focused on financial independence and personal financial responsibility. We expected our passions and our hobbies to be something we enjoyed and pursued in our free time, which we planned and do have. My husband’s career and our choices eventually allowed me to work part time in business while our daughters were young. Later, as his income grew further, we both agreed and I desired to leave my successful business career entirely to be at home for our girls, to have more time for my intuitive work and to help the household run more smoothly for all of us.
If at any time my husband’s financial situation or our situation changed and we needed more income that was more stable or provided benefits I would look to go straight back to business and strategic planning. I would then do my intuitive work on the side or as time allows.
I love the idea of getting paid for what you love and all the other idealistic notions of a world where everyone is paid for what they worth and it is in a job that they are passionate about. But, I also appreciate being appreciative of all the people I interact with daily, working hard at their jobs, whether they are passionate about it or not. I see them as actual people, who have personal lives, interests, hobbies and challenges and pains. I don’t look at them as a sell out, or unenlightened or less valuable than somebody getting paid for their passions. They matter. We don’t begin to matter just because of our work, our income or our passions. We matter because all life matters and all humans have inherent value, even young humans. Yes?
Here is another perspective on this idea from the Atlantic, extending my thoughts above to the idea that our work has become our religion, something to serve, feel empowered by and to find meaning in. I hope you like it (I did) and it provides further points for personal consideration.