“Do What You Love” is a Lie

Do what you love. Love what you do.

Odds are you tried something in your life. A passion. A hobby. Something that got you excited, made you feel alive. It felt amazing doing it. And you did it, and did it, and kept at it, but in time it became more and more difficult to stay with it long enough to achieve true success.

Let’s face it: if you’re not in love anymore with what you’re doing, it feels like an uphill struggle. That’s OK if you’re a hobbyist or a dabbler, but if you want a career, if you want to live your life at the highest level possible, then all this might make you want to stop and try something else…

You want to quit because you weren’t expecting that doing what you loved would be so damn frustrating at times. So infuriating. So full of monotony, and moments of despair.

So damn boring…

Wasn’t this supposed to be about love? About passion?

Well…

Ever thought that maybe your understanding of what it takes to succeed in any given field is not accurate?

Your work  —  if it is to bring a tear to someone’s eye  —  if it is to be talked about for a long time  —  was never supposed to have been easy.

After fourteen years of writing and blogging, after four years of working out, it’s clear to me now that the work has to be challenging.

It has to be painful.

You see, you’re both the marble and the sculptor.

You’re not just doing what you love, but you are becoming someone else. And in order to reach a higher level in your work, you must become a different person. The kind of person who can accomplish those feats.

And this hurts. It always does.

I can see that it is not about only doing what I love, because half the time if I’m honest, I do not love it.

“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” Mark Z. Danielewski

Writing as a career can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be tough and rough and frustrating to the point that I want to cry. I even did cry more often than I’d like to admit.

But I do know that it is work that makes me feel alive, keeps me sane in a very psychological sense. It is hard work that keeps my heart pumping.

As a side note: Comfort breeds monsters. The desire for comfort breeds insecurities and anxieties. That’s why aspiring to become the best, to make your life a masterpiece, to constantly evolve, all that is never going to be effortless.

By staying with my craft for so long, I reassess my own humanity. Not because it’s easy. But because it is such a painfully slow process.

Do “what you love” long enough, and you’ll realize that the long and impossible journey towards home is, in fact, your home.

In other words, the struggle never ends.

Frustration is an indication of growth  —  of new mental pathways being formed. When I wake up tomorrow, I’m a little better at handling the things that I would have struggled with yesterday.

Years ago, I would have told you to follow your passion; to do what you loved. Now I’m telling you to do what makes you feel alive, because in life and living there is pain.

There is no greatness to be had in a world without struggle.

I don’t know if those of us who stay with our crafts are a little masochistic. I think we might have to be. But I know for certain that we’re unreasonable.

You have to fall in love with the pain of hard work.

Only in this sense are we doing what we truly love.

You must use the boredom, and the frustration, and the fear. The rejection of others. Their criticism.

If you’re into tennis, you might be familiar with a Romanian Tennis Player, Simona Halep. Well, she’s from my city, and a friend of mine went to school with her as kids. He had this to say about her:

Everybody knew her. But that was not something positive, as if she was popular or something. We were judging all the time. She was a girl but she had very short hair, looked like a boy, almost never wore the school’s uniform and she played tennis every single break, sometimes before the first lesson started… most of the times by herself, with the help of the school’s back wall. She did not want to play other silly, 8-year old specific games. She kind of refused us all the time, until we stopped asking. She was never smiling, anyway.

Now, I ask you. How does an eight year old feel when rejected by other kids?

How would you feel?

Doing what you love is not that much about love. I know, it’s a paradox. The work worth doing is about pain, patience, and perseverance.

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55 thoughts on ““Do What You Love” is a Lie

  1. This made me think of Charles Bukowski’s ‘Don’t try’ epitaph on his gravestone. He said, ‘Somebody asked me: “What do you do? How do you write, create?” You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.’

    Liked by 6 people

  2. So me helping people & getting burned at times fits this? I run from people because I’m driven to help but fear the ungratitude in the future, it hurts. I’m trying to get over those feelings & just do the work God has placed in my lil ole heart. It actually fulfills me. But once disappointed I’m in a slump with all people giving them the side-eye. I’m trying to shake it off. I’ll get there eventually.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Amazing article! Every single word is so meaningful!
    I especially loved the line,”You have to fall in love with the pain of hard work “.
    These days we all talk about how important it is to follow our passion and then we talk about the great stories of people who made it big in life by doing so but unfortunately we never reflect upon the struggles that they faced! Even if we do, we make it appear like a heroic moment, as if they felt like superheroes while going through so much! But no, it is and will always be painful to follow our passion. We need to realize this!

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Do what you love or love what you do, may be a lie or stressful. For me, once I decide to do, I do it WITH love. It’s different from like what you do. Pain may be a reality, suffering is an option, shall go with you, “love the pain of hardwork”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Life is built from the steps we make. If you did not do what you loved, today you did not realize that you must feel alive to count. All the states through which we pass are part of our lives and we build our character. Be glad that you know these states because you can talk about them from your personal experience. That means living your life, not just good parts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As it was written:

    “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”

    We have to plough through the debris in order to find the light that we’ll receive. That is, we have to do the grunt-work to gain that inspiration.

    But when we find it, it fills us. And we look back to say, “What was I complaining about, again?”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Frustration is an indication of growth  —  of new mental pathways being formed. When I wake up tomorrow, I’m a little better at handling the things that I would have struggled with yesterday.

    Years ago, I would have told you to follow your passion; to do what you loved. Now I’m telling you to do what makes you feel alive, because in life and living there is pain.”

    This hit home Cristian Mihai. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “You have to fall in love with the pain of hard work.” The reality of every success story.
    I agree with most of what you’ve written but…How do I find that work that keeps me alive? That pushes me to work that hard. Or maybe I’ll just have to push myself for it.
    Anyway, this post was so inspiring…And the quote from Mark Z. Danielewski really sums it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s the point I was trying to make: yoy push yourself for it. You do it and do it and do it and you will fall in love with it.

      Love at first sight is so rare it might not be real. You can’t count on it, not when your life depends on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True, you can’t count on it. But then, in some interviews, successful people go on and on about how they found their passion and never gave up on it…Do you think they had to fall in love with their profession, too?
        I loved this post so much. And I’m always gonna remember the part about falling in love with the pain of hard work…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Most likely, yes. Read a lot about it. In “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. In “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”

          I didn’t love writing (or blogging) that much when I first started. Blogging, for instance, only came to appreciate fully when I started my blog on blogging.

          And love for what you do comes and goes. You fall in and out of love with your craft/art countless times during your life.

          To think otherwise is just not realistic.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well, you’re doing an excellent job with your blog! I used to think that it must come naturally to you but on reading some of your posts, I realised it didn’t.
            In the end what matters is just dedication, isn’t it?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well, I know only certainly speak for myself. I started writing when I was 13 years old. Thought it was easy, thought I’d become the youngest writer ever to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature, and the second person to also receive an Academy Award.

              The first story someone else read? They told me I was a retard.

              I didn’t love writing, not at first. I wanted the reward, yes, but I knew nothing of the price that one has to pay.

              The same for going to the gym. It took years to develop this into a proper passion.

              It all comes down to how much you’re willing to suffer for what you want. It’s not the fairytale people expect, but if suffering is inevitable, the best thing you can do is to choose what you’re suffering for.

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting piece, Cristian. I have always done what I love, or loved what I have done. I have grown as a person because my work has always been a therapeutic relationship with others, and that involves accepting them as they are and my own mistakes. I know nurses who refuse a promotion because it involves less contact with people and more paperwork. Success is something that cannot be measured in wealth or status. Success is whatever enriches you.

    Like

  10. Hi Cristian. Just wanted to say this post was well done and insightful. I recall posting a very early attempt at short fiction on Facebook, and the sole comment I received was, “Are you on crack?” Not very encouraging! But I do love the challenge of writing, editing, and re-writing toward a goal of touching someone’s emotions with the final product, whether the heartstrings or the funny bone. Any worthwhile goal requires a willingness to suffer on the journey. All the best… ~Don

    Liked by 1 person

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