Doing What You Love Can Still Suck

“I’m just over it.”

“Today’s been rough.”

“I’m beat.”

“I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

“I’m ready to quit.

If I told you these words came from people who are following their dreams, doing what they love, what they were put on this earth to do — would you believe me?

But it’s true. Those are statements right from the mouths of people who don’t need to find their passion, but have found it and are actually doing it. And they’re tired. Man, are they tired.

That’s the thing nobody really tells you when you’re at the starting line, or worse, haven’t even entered the race yet. That it’s a really long journey. That it requires a lot of commitment. And that there’s a strong chance you’ll probably burn out before you make it to the finish.

It’s funny, when you’re not doing what you want to do, you spend all day thinking about doing it. And then when you’re doing it, you realize, holy shit, this is really difficult. I don’t know if I can make it.

But there’s something about that, and I think we all do it. It’s this thing where we try to rationalize the suck. We make excuses for it.

“I shouldn’t complain because I’m doing what I love.”

“At least I’m not working at McDonald’s.”

“It’s okay because I’m not like everyone else — I didn’t settle.”

On some level this makes sense — you probably shouldn’t complain — but fuck it, you are a human and you are here on this earth right now inside this body that is yours and you have a mind and you think for yourself and you have feelings and your feelings are telling you that whatever you are doing right now, even if it’s your dream, fucking blows.

Okay, it blows. And you are entitled to feel that way. You don’t need to be working in a sweatshop to hate what you do.

But after that’s established, then what?

I guess maybe you won’t make it. A lot don’t. And that’s okay. Quitting is cooler than most people say it is. Only losers say things like: “Winners never quit.” Real winners say: “Gee, this looks like a losing fight. Obviously, I should give up.”

It’s like boxing. What boxer wants to throw in the towel? None. That’s why they have people in their corner. Smart minds who can identify when a fighter is getting the shit kicked out of him and is probably going to die. And they stop the fight. They quit for them. It’s okay. They take the L and they live to fight another day.

The point is, even your passion can be a torturous grind. And you can find that it doesn’t really give you what you thought it might. You can be in it to win it, and still lose. And that’s when you either double down and get more serious, find a way to make it work, or you just bail.

Either way, I think you come out okay. You either really win, or you win by default. Addition by subtraction.

Make sense? I think it does.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.