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Myths About Passion and Your Art Career

Myths About Passion and Your Art Career

Karen Siwak | CareerRealism

If you Google “find your passion” you will get 39,000,000 hits. Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and you will see 50 or more volumes on finding your passion, following your passion, living your passion. Every other social media bio has a reference to “passionate about.” Passion, as they say, is the new black.

So I was hardly surprised when a young friend came to me for career advice, and started the conversation by saying “My job stinks, I’m bored to tears. I just can’t figure out what my passion is.” She spoke as if somewhere, out there, is a single career-related purpose that, if she could but find it, would lead to eternal fulfillment. This was her fifth “it stinks” job in three years, and it was clear she had fallen for the passion myth.

Myth #1: I’m not making enough money, so clearly I’m not on the right path.

Reality Bite – Passion does not equate with income.

If you are lucky, you have a passionate interest that feeds your soul and gives lightness to your day. But if you look outside yourself for affirmation or compensation for your passion, you may be in for disappointment. Don’t believe me? Watch the auditions for American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, and you’ll see thousands of people hoping their talents will make them a star. For all but a handful, that dream will be crushed. Many of those crushed enthusiasts will be too embarrassed to ever sing or dance again and that, to me, is tragic. If you are passionate about singing, then sing. If you are passionate about dancing, then dance. But do it because you love to sing and dance. Not because you crave the applause.

Nearly every self-help book or website mentions turning your hobby into a career. Stories abound of people who did exactly that and made millions. Less often told, but exponentially more numerous, are the stories of people who tried to turn their hobbies into an income stream and things didn’t work out the way they expected. The woodworker who stopped getting any joy out of his art because all of his commissions were boring pieces for clients with no imagination. The cooking enthusiast who never got to do any cooking because they spent 95% of their time dealing with the mundane business details involved in running a restaurant.

More practical advice would be to “Find a Job that Pays Reasonably Well So You Can Afford to Follow Your Passions Outside of Work” – but that wouldn’t be a very sexy book title.

Next: Myth #2: Following your passion equals meaningful work →

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