Keep that dream job in mind

By Amitha Bhat

“What gets you up in the morning?” 

This frequently asked question generally elicits two reactions. The first consists of an aversion of sorts because this person doesn’t really know and can’t necessarily pinpoint something related to a life pursuit, which is completely valid in itself. 

The second is an excitable thrum in your chest, where nothing but love resides, because you have the answer to that million-dollar question: your passion. Whatever that may be, it’s yours, fused so closely to your being that it might as well be fundamentally ingrained in your genetic makeup.

If you fall into the latter category, this article is for you. 

When people think of “pursuing your passion,” the icon that most often appears is the starving artist; the painter, the writer, the musician, the dancer, the thespian and every variant who cannot pay rent. These are all options, of course, but many fail to recognize those who happen to be passionate about traditionally lucrative and widely respected fields — individuals working in industries such as engineering and technology, marketing, finance, law, medicine and many others. It’s entirely possible to pursue your passion while being able to provide for yourself, assuming that you are passionate about a discipline that earns “well.” 

This is not entirely a monetary debate, but for many people, money is the determining factor. It can be more difficult and confusing to obtain financial stability in traditionally artistic fields, such as visual art. In a survey conducted by The Creative Independent, 60% of the visual artists surveyed stated “they were earning less than half as much as the average American household.” 

So, it’s not all smooth sailing. It usually never is. Statistics like these are common because situations like these are common. If you haven’t already heard, you will be made aware by many that your future doesn’t have many gold coins in sight. You will be told that you’re the rule, not the exception. 

I’ve always wanted to go into academia. My professor informed my 8 a.m. lecture that he had to sell his plasma to pay for groceries during his graduate schooling. 

But, here’s something you’ve probably heard countless times: You only live once. If you have the opportunity to make the thing you love your job — to wake up every morning with the knowledge that you are immersing yourself in your beloved craft, whatever that may be — you’d jump at the chance. 

If you have the opportunity to make the thing you love your job — to wake up every morning with the knowledge that you are immersing yourself in your beloved craft, whatever that may be — you’d jump at the chance. 

Of course, to do the thing you love as a job, actually being in love with it is a prerequisite. Love itself is subjective, but in this context, it requires an operative definition. The “YOLO” proposition only operates under the premise that you truly hold a strong appreciation and passion for the discipline, the process in all its hills and pitfalls, not simply the idea of something that you’ve never attempted. Say you want to be the writer of a best-selling novel. You’ll need to fall in love not only with the glory or respect that you may gain with that achievement, but also the months (or years) spent obsessing over your words, rhythm, plot structure, sentence structure, characters, character arcs and a thousand other minutiae of the work itself. Not only that, but it’s necessary to accept the inevitable rejections and failures as a part of the process, and perhaps even grow to love those as well.

Your passion as your job — it’s the ultimate goal. Not the necessary pathway. 

Financial stability is crucial in order to survive, full stop. The majority of people don’t have money to blow on a degree that won’t return on their investment. The thing is,  pursuing your passion doesn’t necessarily entail a degree in that specific discipline. 

The “YOLO” mindset (as pertaining to your passion) and obtaining financial stability are not mutually exclusive pursuits, and they shouldn’t always be considered as such.

Essentially, cover your bases. Maintain a pathway that has the potential of offering you a means to survive, financially, all with the goal of your passion as your job in mind. 

That being said, I don’t entertain condescension toward those who ultimately decide to continue with their passion as a hobby. I dislike the commonality of the term “selling out” because it implies that you have done something wrong by simply ensuring a secure future for yourself and potentially your loved ones. 

Research has found associations between higher job satisfaction and higher life satisfaction. You know yourself, and if you already know you’ll never be truly satisfied unless you are doing the thing you love as your main gig — not just on the side — then keep the goal. Get a taste of it. Pivot eventually, if you have to. Try to take every opportunity to guarantee that your day job is the dream job. 

There exists a false dichotomy here: Life is not all or nothing. In many cases, if you really want to do the thing you love as your job, there’s a way. Keep in mind, this is not a promise, nor is it a proclamation. 

It’s simply a mode of hopeful thinking for those of you who know precisely what gets you up in the morning. 

Amitha Bhat thinks your endgame should be the dream job.

Two hands reach out from a shadowy figure with a glowing heart

Eddie Zhao / Daily Nexus

Profit and protect your passions through malicious compliance

By Toni Shindler-Ruberg

I hate that people are forced to choose between passion and profit, even on a philosophical level. It’s rarely a true choice because more often than not, it’s a choice between passion and survival.

The most unfortunate life lesson I’ve discovered is that you have to play the game to beat the game. The game, and its reward, is surviving in a capitalistic society that profits off the depersonalization and exploitation of the individual. 

Over the past few years, I’ve been “passionate” about forensic psychology, classical ballet, graphic design, video production and writing. Part of this was my undiagnosed ADHD talking, but it was mostly my mistaken conflation between passion and career. I’ve realized it’s not the specific job I’m passionate about. Rather, my passion is discovering and sharing new stories in as many forms as I can.

Maybe you’ve dreamt about becoming a doctor your entire life. You accept the hundred-hour weeks, calls during mealtime, as well as the draining physical and emotional demands of the job. The job is your passion and your lifestyle. It’s wonderful if this works for you.

It is important to find some level of satisfaction in the work you do. But, for the average person, it’s far too easy to confuse deriving satisfaction from a job well done and passion for certain aspects of a career. Let’s be honest, who is actually passionate about accounting?

Those who view jobs as simply a means to an end are seen as “less” — less interesting, less ambitious or less valuable. 

Maybe you’ve heard of “quiet quitting,” a term coined by big business to describe employees only working within defined work hours and meeting their outlined job responsibilities. No more and no less. The term “quiet quitting” vilifies employees for doing their jobs. 

Passion is not about that promotion, the publishing company you work for, becoming a partner at a specific investing firm or how many paintings you sell in a month. These are career goals. Passion is about creating new worlds, discovering hidden patterns in an ocean of data and translating the beauty you see in the universe. 

Quiet quitting is “about divorcing your ego from what you do for a living and not striving for perfection,” wrote NPR’s Greg Rosalsky and Alina Selyukh.

If it can, capitalism will squeeze every last drop of energy and inspiration from you. Any attempts to pursue my creative passions in the modern workplace have led to burnout. From selling crochet pieces, to submitting short stories, to countless publications, to staying up until four in the morning editing ‘um’s’ out of podcast audio, the incessant demands of society to prove and retail my passion wore me down. I became focused on pleasing my audience, reaping hollow satisfaction from sales or view counts. 

Those who view jobs as simply a means to an end are seen as “less” — less interesting, less ambitious or less valuable. 

If a job is the only context in which you can exercise passion or one that brings you joy, you might be more inclined to push past your limits, leading to burnout and ultimately, disillusionment. Businesses are upset because quiet quitting has made it harder to leverage passion and advancement to exploit employees for free labor.

It’s often not enough to dream big and work hard in order to both profit and pursue your passion. The systems that dictate our society — and the barriers to our advancement — are built upon systemic oppression. Education, policing, food equity, healthcare and our work environments are all interrelated and all need reinvention. The four-day workweek is a modest start to recognizing and valuing workers as individuals. But, change will not happen overnight or even over the next few years. 

In the meantime, participating in the capitalistic systems of society to survive is not inherently acceptable. Even anti-capitalists have to turn to multibillion-dollar corporations like Instagram to spread their messages. You probably can’t afford to run away to the woods to fulfill your hermit lumberjack life; escaping mainstream society is unexpectedly difficult and expensive.

Everybody has motivation and ambition, but the office is one of the only places society values and recognizes these characteristics. Your passions are more than what you produce or the title you hold. Anti-capitalism requires a radical transformation in the way we conceptualize and approach work, creation and change. The best I can do is abide by malicious compliance, allowing for me to assert my boundaries and prevent capitalism from taking advantage of my desires and interests.

A job is only a single speck within the multitude of the self. A job can just be a job. You don’t have to be passionate about it, and you certainly don’t have to go above and beyond. We don’t have to force boundless expressions of passion into a rigid, profit-focused capitalist economy. 

Be a satisfactory employee so you can be a passionate friend, partner, teacher and individual. 

Toni Shindler-Ruberg is passionate about establishing strict boundaries between her work and personal lives.

A version of this article appeared on p. 16 of the Oct. 6, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Toni Shindler-Ruberg
Toni Shindler-Ruberg is the Opinion Editor for the 2022-23 school year. Previously, she was the Assistant Opinion Editor for the 2021-22 school year. She is an English and Psychological & Brain Sciences double major with a passion for antique knife restoration videos and looking at pictures of ducks wearing mini cowboy hats.