My Future

How I Realised I Shouldn’t Turn My Passion Into My Career

Just because you love it doesn't mean you need to make money from it.

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I’ve wanted to be an actress since I found out it was an actual job. You get to wear costumes? And speak with accents? And pretend you’re living in a totally different world, in a totally different time, with a totally different job? Where do I sign up?

So the obsession began. I auditioned for acting schools. I got involved with community theatre in my spare time. I made very stupid videos on YouTube with my best friend. Attention was like my oxygen. I loved inhabiting planet “Look at me, look at me!”

But whenever I had to do the not fun parts, like reading Shakespeare (snore), rehearsing my lines or doing a tonne of research, I bristled. It sucked. I kicked and groaned. I just wanted to perform and do the fun stuff. Why is acting so serious?!

Of course, without the hard stuff, the fun stuff wasn’t nearly as rewarding. It made me realise that you can’t want to do something enough if you don’t want to do the hard bits.

Follow Your Dreams If You’re Willing To Follow Them Through Anything

I’m all for following your dreams. In the cheesiest, most Pinterest-quote worthy way, I truly believe that enough hard work is guaranteed to get you places. (Yes, I watch Friday Night Lights, why do you ask?) But saying something is your “dream” or “passion” is easy – following through on it is a whole other ball game.

In my experience, I knew for a fact that I wasn’t willing to make sacrifices to be an actress. I wouldn’t alter my appearance, or become really opinionated about Brecht. I’d also definitely not be OK with a sporadic pay check; pursuing what you love is synonymous with privilege, after all. I loved the parts I loved, but I refused to accept the parts I didn’t.

So, How Can You Tell?

If you want to make your passion a career, you have to ask yourself if you want to make the sacrifice to ride through all the shit stuff.

“Passions are often confused with hobbies, but there is a critical difference,” Jenika, a psychologist and photographer wrote on her blog. “A hobby is “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” Passions, on the other hand, are not relaxing. Passions don’t leave you alone. Passions insert themselves into your life whether you have time for them or not.”

losing the laser focus on one thing opens you up to the millions of possibilities around you.

Is the thing you love just fun? Or is it something you can’t live without? Because it’s totally OK if it’s not. Not everyone has to make their career something they love. Besides, losing the laser focus on one thing opens you up to the millions of possibilities around you. In my case, dropping the thing that wasn’t quite working led me to something that really does: writing. As Tim Minchin said in his UWA occasional address, “… You should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye.”

In saying all this, even if your passion doesn’t end up turning into a career, it’s still an integral part of who you are. Keep being the weird, wonderful creative person you are outside of the 9 to 5.

(Lead image: Arrested Development/FOX)