Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
– Anonymous (Some say Confucius, but likely not. It just made for a nice title.)
If you make your hobby your job, it’ll take the fun out of it.
– My Dad
Before music was my livelihood, I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to make it my livelihood. I didn’t think so much about whether or not music would change for me. Would I enjoy it as much? Would I still devour albums and play songs on repeat? Those weren’t questions I was asking, because I was too busy daydreaming about making music full-time.
Here’s the thing, though. Music has changed. I don’t love it the same. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love it, but it’s different now. I hardly ever listen to music that I’m not working on. Why? My ears are burned out and I can only consume so much. My brain switches to analytic mode and it’s difficult to just sit back and enjoy a song. If you’d have told my 16-year-old self this, he would be sad. Maybe you are, too.
Don’t be sad for me, though. I’m not sad. I still love music and I love what I do.
My point is that I don’t think either of the above quotes are completely true (unless, dad, you’re reading this — then you’re totally right!). It’s more nuanced than that. If you do what you love for a job, it will sometimes feel like a job. For example, I was just with a pro songwriter friend. Guess what? We were complaining to each other about our songwriting issues. Trust me, I know, how stupid and privileged that sounds. But back to my point, it’s our job to write songs so writing songs is our job. Is that making sense? By the way, songwriters (and my wife) are the only ones I dare bemoan songwriting issues with!
So maybe you want to be a pro baseball player. Maybe you want to start a business selling your paintings. Maybe you want to write songs. But maybe you’re also wondering if that will take the fun out of it. Or maybe you’re dreaming it will solve all your problems.
In my experience, neither is true all the time. They’re both true some of the time. If I were to come up with my own pithy quote it would go something like this:
“Choose a job you love and somedays it will feel like a job, but you will still love it, it will just be different, and there’s no way you can know what that’s going to be like unless you go for it, so maybe just go for it instead of wondering for the rest of your life, because wondering also has its own problems.”