Our Jobs: Doing What We Love

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

As singles, we have options: where to live, who to socialize with, what to do for a living. Out of those three things, our jobs often take the biggest precedent because we spend a lot of energy thinking about what we want to do with our lives. And a lot of times, when we decide to take a leap and do something different, it means we have to switch other things around in order to accommodate that change.

But things are never quite as simple as making a change and having everything fall magically into place; it’s inevitably more complicated than that. There are many factors involved with a job change: the amount of money you make; the degree to which you’re comfortable making drastic life changes; certain options not being available in your current geographic area; rent and lease responsibilities; a lack of required education. But in general, singles are often seen as having more options when it comes to making job and/or career changes than someone who is married or has children.

The hardest part about making a job change is actually following through with the process. It’s not easy, or something that can be taken lightly. Experts may counsel us to take risks and do what we love, especially during this time in our lives when it’s socially acceptable to experiment with what we really want to do, but that’s easier said than done. We still have to collect a paycheck, pay our bills, keep our health insurance. And even if we don’t really like what we’re currently doing, it can be scary to give up a feeling of stability for the questions involved with the unknown.

But why do we change jobs in the first place? Why are so many of us dissatisfied with what we do? This is something I’ve thought about many, many times over the years. I’ve read a lot of opinions on the subject, but to me it all seems to circle back to inspiration. We change jobs, or dream of changing our jobs, because we’re not satisfied with what we’re currently doing. For some people, changing their job means staying in the same city, in the same type of industry, but just switching to a different compay. Others are willing to take a more drastic approach, like moving to Los Angeles to work as a waitress while they wait for their big acting break.

We want to feel inspired. We want to feel like we’re doing something that we enjoy and that we’re good at. Money will always be a factor because we have to make enough to live on, but for many people who truly love what they do, it’s not the biggest motivating factor. When I looked for people who were talking about loving their jobs, not once did one of them say they loved their job solely because they were making a lot of money. Another commonality is that a lot of people who love their jobs don’t have so-called “normal,” desky-type careers. Some people fell into their jobs randomly and it turned out to be the best move they ever made, but most people have to make a conscious decision — in order to do what you love, you have to make it happen.

Colleen is a freelance writer. She acknowleges there are hardships involved in this career choice, but believes the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. She has a list of the top ten reasons why she loves her job.

I’m my own best boss. Agents can advise, editors can reject, but the buck stops with me when it comes down to creative decisions. Though I work hard, I set my own pace and place — and nobody docks me for taking an hour to play with my dog in the sunshine.

Leslie is the co-founder of an event planning company.

[...] I love my job, because I got to take a few moments out of my 18-hour work day and sip on a Cosmopolitan while I listened to my past bride thank me (Leslie-Manning Events, rather) over and over for saving her life and bringing a professional’s touch to her wedding. She even insisted on paying for the drinks. Who says this job is thankless? Okay…alright…I did…a few weeks ago, but that was only because I had forgotten about moments like these.

Drea loved her job as an English language instructor:

I love my job. Rather, I love the job that I’ve just lost. Yesterday was my last day as a permanently-employed English Language Instuctor. I think that I’ve been so blessed to have had a job that made me willing and happy to get up and do every morning. And it was always so wonderful to enter a classroom to greetings such as, “Good Morning, Teacher!” or “Drea, what’s your concept today?” or “Drea, I’m sorry, my homework didn’t do. So sorry. Tomorrow.” [...]

I find that the reason I adore that job is that not only am I a teacher in the classroom, I am a student as well. Language teaching is so much more than learning grammar, idioms, vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation… it’s learning about cultures, traditions, paradigms and where all of these overlap among people from all different parts of the world. A college professor once told me, “Learning a new language is like gaining a new soul.” Teaching a new language is not much different!

Dixie Dynamite works for the same college where she went to school, and she’s content.

The best years of my life were spent here as a student. It’s where I made most of the friends I still have, it’s where I met my husband, it’s where I really think I became the person I am today. I love being able to walk around campus, where nostalgia lies around every corner. Sometimes I’ll go into a building or walk down a certain sidewalk and the memories come flooding back…..I love that. Not everyone is so lucky to work in a place they love so much.

When I got the job, I remember telling a friend of mine who had been my roommate in college. Her reply was, “You can’t stay there forever. You have to enter the *real world* at some point.” I have come to the conclusion that is not true. I don’t want to be part of the *real world* (whatever that means–and yes, working in academia is much different than working in some corporate job….I know that now.) So I choose to stay here. Everyone talks so much about how hard the “real world” is….so why not stay here? It’s safe and cozy here and they do give me a paycheck to be here, after all. So why not? Who needs the “real world” anyway?

Rahree helps to put on an orchestral show.

Sitting in an orchestra rehearsal, preparing for the first full opera of the summer. Whee! The composer is in the room [a luxury afforded to us who produce 20th century works], and the ensemble is doing a great job putting it together. The conductor is so cool – very down to earth and fun, and just so skilled. Between her, my boss, and the music administrator, it makes me wonder why companies insist on hiring high-maintenance folks when there are folks who are both skilled AND have good people skills AND are fun to work with. [...]

I’m so happy when this time of the summer rolls around. I love being able to support those who are on stage and working behind the scenes. I love the refinement of the rehearsal process, which is easier to see when you’re in the room once a week rather than every day. And I love seeing how proud the artists are when the first curtain call rolls around.

Jennifer is a children’s book writer and illustrator.

As I was sitting on the edge of my bathtub this evening with sketchbook in hand drawing my toilet, I got to thinking. First, I wondered, how many people have drawn portraits of their potty. Anyone? Anyone? Second, I thought, what a cool job I have that people actually pay me to draw pictures of my toilet. – I really love my job. It’s great getting to draw all sorts of odd-ball things. Today I drew a toilet, a baseball mitt, and a giraffe kissing a lunch lady.

Miss Kim is a special education teacher.

I love the moment that bell rings and the kids bust into school. I love hearing those little voices saying, “Hi, Miss Kim”, crossing the hall to give me a hug, or show me a treasure. I love teaching my reading group. They manage to make my laugh every day. Whether they’re trying to convince Miss Theresa that “tox” is a word — “You know, my mom tox on the phone” — or just showing me their newest dance moves, they bring light into my day.

Probably the source of most of my headaches, too, but children are such joy bringers.

Beth talks about preparing a summer camp for its young visitors.

You know how some days you look up at the clock and those minutes drag on forever? And some days you look up and it’s 5 o’clock and you feel like you’ve only been there for a couple of hours? The latter has happened to me a lot recently. The days are just going by so fast here at camp. There is a lot of work to be done to get ready for summer camp — booklets to print, registrations to process, ringing phones to answer, mail to open, t-shirts to order, payments to process, e-mails to respond to. The list seems never-ending. And I love it.

I love being here. I love walking down the hill to work in the morning (not driving 15 minutes to get to work). I love seeing my husband multiple times during the day. I love eating lunch with my friends. But beyond those things, I love doing what I do here at camp. I love working with Mary & Ben & Russ to keep things running smoothly. I love being part of our Guest Services team, where we look at the Retreat groups that are coming and assessing how we can serve them better. I love the community that is New Life Ranch. I am grateful for this opportunity to call this my “job” right now.

Ashley Michele works as a receptionist in the corporate office of a major trucking company. She’s able to find humor in her everyday job duties.

One of my duties here is to screen the applications that come through the 1-800 Jobline, where hopeful truck drivers leave their contact information so HR managers from the appropriate distribution center can get in touch with them to schedule an interview. Not a particularly entertaining job in and of itself (although we *have* received some interesting calls in the past).

It becomes entertaining and downright lovable when a rather daft, and doubtless inebriated, trucker leaves a message….

“Hello? I’m Brad and I want to, and– I want to join the ‘winning team’ class A thing. (*aside to someone else* well, it beeped, so I don’t know what I’m s’posed to do.) And uh, I love you. And please call this number back. As many times as you want, because I worked for U-Haul…for many years. And after that I worked for Atlas Van Lines. Drove for a long time. Bye.”

….and did I mention that he didn’t even leave a phone number for callback? Hehehehe…people can be so strange. I love it. Perhaps almost as much as Brad loves us.

Naina is a freelance designer. She does internet research to find the inspiration to complete her projects, and one find inevitably leads to another.

I’m designing the packaging design for a Gold series of incense sticks for a New Delhi based incense-stick manufacturer. To kick-off the project, we decided to start with the line of ‘Mogra’ fragrances.

I have spent the last two hours researching about Mogra – which is a white-colored flower. That was the information I started with. All I knew was that Mogra is a sweetly fragrant, white-colored flower. I’ve seen the a flower hundreds of times and taken for granted it’s sweet fragrance. I had no idea what it’s called in English – Mogra is it’s Hindi name. Someone suggested that the Mogra flower is known as Jasmine.

Since I wasn’t sure, a Google Image Search for the flower’s name followed. It turned up very few relevant hits. I thought that the best way to find out whether the two flowers were the same would be to compare their photographs. The photographs turned out to be inconclusive – in terms of helping in the comparison. [...]

I’m learning some botany while working on graphic design.

Who said design was just making something look visually appealing?

I love my job.

Fashion Girl works for a company that owns several craft-services companies. She tells people that she has her dream job, and in this post she lists some of the things about her day that she really likes.

[...] I was just thinking that no matter how busy I get, I still LOVE my job. I always tell people that I have my dream job. Here’s what I did today…

11:45 am I made a shrine with my friend, Kathy, the Crafty Chica. [...]

12:15 pm I met three fantastic students from Fresno Pacific University…they were job-shadowing me for the day! [...]

1:15 pm The students helped me “trend”. They thought it was great that I actually get to read magazines as part of my job. Who gets to read Vogue and Glamour at work without hiding it?!!! [...]

3:30 pm I worked with two team members to figure out how to make a project work for Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Craft Stores. [...]

So I never had a chance to read emails today or answer phone calls, or even get anything crossed off my task list…but I ended the day reminding myself that I have an unbelievable job and that I work at an unbelievable company! On days when I get stressed, I just remember that I get to work with paint and glue and glitter and rhinestones…how can that stress anyone out?!!!

This is from an interview with Elaine, a literary agent.

What is the best part of being an agent?

[...] I love my job so I really could go on forever. First and foremost the people. I am blessed to be surrounded by such dynamic people EVERY day. You really get a full feeling of the world around you. Our work influences us to all different cultures and experiences on a constant basis.

Another HUGE thing for me is that every day is a complete different ballgame. My job is a million rolled into 1. Somedays I’m an editor, somedays I’m a reader, somedays I’m an educator, other days I’m a salesperson and saavy negotiator. It all just depends. And lets not forget the obvious perk to my job. I have an endless supply of books flying at me, and not a soul can EVER make me feel guilty for shutting out the world and curling up with a good book.

Oh yeah, and that whole bit about getting to help people make their dreams come true. That pretty much rocks my world too.

Nicole is a physical therapist.

I have friends who tell me that I am wasting my talent being a [physical therapist] and I should go to Med School. I thought about it long and hard, and it just wasn’t for me. I want to spend time with my patients and get to know them. I want to teach them the importance of what being healthy is and inspire them to take care of themselves the best that the can so they can reach their personal health goals. I treat runners, the elderly, basketball kids, grandmas, pregnant ladies, and everyone in between. I teach them how to take care of themselves and they teach me everything from using the Neti Pot, to quilting, to how to get out of a speeding ticket. I will never want to be an MD. I will probably never save anyones life, but I hope they will be better off from working with me.

Susie Q is a teacher in the dance studio that her family owns.

I love my job. There are moments of craziness, days when I wish I was doing something else, something that actually paid right now. But then there are days like today.

Our dance recital was today, and my little Barrier-Free dancers danced in their first recital today. Four little girls, three with Down Syndrome and one with Autism, put on their pretty, little, ballerina princess dresses and danced on stage for their families, friends, and for the strangers there to see their own daughters. And they received a standing ovation. I don’t know that there was a dry eye in the house. And of course, all of the other dance students danced beautifully as well. We had a wonderful recital. It was a triumph for us. [...]

The Studio has had its struggles. And there will probably be more. But this Studio is more than just about us. Yes, it is a family studio. Yes, it is wonderful, friendly, family-oriented place. But it is so much more. We have the ability to fill a need in Little Rock, and tonight, we showed ourselves that we can do it.

Do you love what you do? Why or why not? What would you do if you had a choice to change jobs right this minute?


  1. i don’t think it’s easier for singles to change jobs at all, i think it’s easier for partnered people without kids, because they have a safety net and a partner that can help support them financially if they take a pay cut, help put them through additional schooling, etc.

    i love my job even though i wouldn’t say i love what i DO at my job. as usual, i’m the weird one, but the reasons i love my job are, in order of importance:

    1. it’s 9-5, no overtime, no weekends. if i show up late, i just stay late, no obnoxious attendance policies. if i want to take a break and get some coffee i just go get some coffee.
    2. i get paid a lot for how much i work. also good benefits, good leave policy, good job security.
    3. i’m well-suited for the work, it comes relatively easy to me.
    4. i don’t have to work with other people and i don’t get bothered by clients/customers/whoever during the day. i sit in my office by myself all day and that’s how i like it.

    i have no interest in working harder or getting less money to do a job that is more interesting. and i’m confident that i could not find a job doing work that i like better UNLESS i worked harder and got paid less. moreover, i honestly don’t think that i would love doing ANYTHING if it were my job. i can sit and play videogames for 8 hours straight easily, but if it were my job to play xbox all day, i think i’d be just as bored and frustrated with that as i get with my work.

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 10:11 am #
  2. I love my job b/c I know I work everyday for a worthy cause. I take pride in knowing the community benefits from the organization I work for.

    I’ve always wanted to teach Kindergarten; I wouldn’t quit what I do now, but if the opportunity came about I would definitley consider it.

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 11:17 am #
  3. I absolutely love my job because of a combination of the reasons Dixie Dynamite mentioned, nice job perks, great coworkers, and that it’s what I’m naturally good at. I have just the right amount of work here to keep me busy and challenged while still having time to enjoy my job’s perks. And like you mentioned, the money has nothing to do with it. I know I could make twice as much money in the corporate world, but I couldn’t wear jeans and flipflops to work there, could I? :)

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 11:27 am #
  4. How inspiring!

    After years of working jobs I despised, I finally found a good career. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you do something you love. It changes every aspect of your life and puts a perpetual spring in your step.

    My new job is fascinating and challenges me on a daily basis. Being stagnant is career kill.

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 12:43 pm #
  5. What Jen says about changing jobs/moving = “spot on”. Actually I think in some ways it’s even easier for people w/kids (from what I’ve read).

    What I like: being self-employed rocks. There is absolutely nothing else like it.

    What I don’t like: being on the road all the time (it was fun at first, but is kind of old now).

    The money is nice, but it’s not the be all/end all.

    So yeah, guess what’ll be happening in the next couple of months? (:

    So what about your job?

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 2:21 pm #
  6. So far, analysis isn’t the bestest job in the whole-wide world, but at least I get to play with a fair amount of technology and pay the bills. There’s some creativity involved, though of a different nature than the creativity I’m used to. We’ll see how the incessant travel treats me when it starts.

    If money weren’t a factor, in order of most desire to least, here’s what I’d go do:

    novelist (science fiction)
    novelist (literary fiction)
    english professor (brit lit)
    english professor (american lit)
    [50 choices later]
    law-talking guy

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 5:05 pm #
  7. Thanks for the link! Being a novelist is a great gig, but the single writer has to remember there are no sick days and no bennies – including retirement.

    Still, it gives me joy, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 6:48 pm #
  8. I do love my job, now….I’ve 21 years with the same company, and entry-level jobs with this particular company are unpleasant (call-center, and LOTS of being yelled at, by customers), though the benefits and pay are wonderful, so we tolerate, ad hope yo move on. After 12 years I was able to transfer to a job in engineering, and I’ve been there ever since….love the people, love the work, and hope to stay where I am until I can retire. And if I could do anything else it would be teaching grade school…I mentored for a few years, and it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Wow, what a long reply!! :)

    Another Chris
    Posted August 13, 2007 at 8:38 pm #
  9. I’m an occupational therapist- and I could have gone to med school if I’d wanted to, but like Nicole I love working with patients. I learn things from all of my patients and it makes my day whenever I do something that seems small to me, but makes a difference for them. It’s very rewarding.
    I get paid well enough to earn a good living.
    I have left jobs because I didn’t like the direction the company was going in and because I wanted to move to be with my family.
    Now, if I were to go back to school I’d go to nursing school or I’d become a teacher.

    Posted August 13, 2007 at 9:21 pm #
  10. Thanks so much for including me in this post!!! I do love my job…I’ve been given amazing opportunities at such a young age. I work in a VERY creative environment with amazingly talented people. I learn something new every day!

    Posted August 21, 2007 at 8:46 pm #

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