Institute

Do What You Love?

Looking back, I can genuinely say that I’ve lived the last twenty-two years following the motto, “Do What You Love.” I took classes in the subjects I loved, I hung out with the friends I loved, I watched the TV shows I loved, and I found various jobs and leadership opportunities that I loved. If I didn’t love something, I quit. Back in fall of 2010, I was enrolled in GW’s Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare program. Two classes (that happened to be at 8 a.m.) in, I hated it. So I dropped out of the program and switched into calculus 3 and a statistics class instead.

Recently, someone in my Twitter feed retweeted this article, which was a follow up/commentary on this article. When I saw the title squeezed into 140 characters, I laughed. “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love.” Surely you must be kidding! I had grown up on that philosophy. That’s how I got out of my athletic requirement in high school! If I hadn’t followed DWYL, right now I’d be on my way to medical school to be a pediatric radiologist. Maybe. Who knows?? It’s honestly an ideology I’ve applied to my life from Day 1. I couldn’t imagine living any other way.

I clicked on the link to the article just to see what on earth the NYT could possibly be arguing. Turns out, the author had a point – and it was going directly apply to my life in the coming year/week.

DWYL is a privilege. It often comes at the cost of neglecting other possible obligations. I’m doing Teach for America because I love and believe in the cause. If I was going to be 100% supporting myself financially over the next year, I’d have looked for jobs that pay more than a first year teacher’s salary. If I had a family to take care of, I would have sought out opportunities that didn’t require moving across the country. If I was looking for a job to match my skill set or expertise, this art history major/business minor would not have chosen to teach secondary math. I am lucky to be able to do what I love.

I’m going to teach in a low-income community (that’s what TFA does). I have to figure out the balance between showing my students that the world is their oyster, while still recognizing that following your dreams does not come consequence-free. Sometimes you have to do what you hate. Sometimes you just have to do what’s necessary. I think the point is that work is work is work. No matter your motivation, the work you do is valid and meaningful. If I dictate to my students that they should only do things that make them happy, I’d be willing to bet that beating 2048 would take precedence over their math homework. Whether you love your work or you hate it, we all have something important to gain from the experience.

aside: there’s a lot of philosophy wrapped up in the DWYL argument, bringing in a range of corresponding factors such as capitalism, feminism, transcendentalism, and unpaid internships. I definitely don’t have any sort of answers or wisdom! I just found it to be interesting food for thought.

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