I had an interesting conversation with an older friend a few weeks back.
Acquaintance: How’s work going?
Adria: Oh, I’m a stay-at-home mom now, remember?
Acquaintance: Yes, that’s right. I’d forgotten. So, when are you going back?
Adria: I’m not sure I am, actually. I’m thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. I really love it!
Acquaintance: . . . what a waste! Of your brain, I mean.
The friend, who is almost 35 years older, didn’t mean to be rude or to insult me. He worked his whole life in a corporation, largely because that was what was expected of him in his generation, and he just couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that I would do something “impractical” with my credentials. This all leads me to wonder: is following your passion frivolous or brave?
Is it daring to say, “the heck with a conventional paycheck, give me a job I love”, or is it indulgent? Few of us are lucky enough to find that “perfect job” that both pays the bills and fills you with a “I-can’t-wait-to-get-to-work-today” satisfaction. Even fewer of us are lucky enough to have the choice to spit in the eye of a well-paying job while searching for greener pastures. I can say without a doubt the bravest of us all are the ones who go to a job they hate because they have no other choice.
I am the first to admit that I’m lucky. I am thankful every single day that I have the means to stay at home full time with my child. I’ll also admit that I – and the hubby of course – worked hard (and saved hard) to get here. Luck helps, but hard work pays off too.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked my old job. It challenged me every day and pushed me to be more, to be better. However, it fanned the flames of my “type-A” personality, and I’m not sure I liked the “Corporate America Adria”. Today I take the time to appreciate the little moments – to soak in life rather than rush to the finish line. I’m less critical of myself in particular. In truth I’m just happy, something I wasn’t always before.
All of this to say, if you had the choice to do something you love for a small amount of compensation, would you take the chance, or would you take the more conventional (and better paying) route? The answer is clear for me. I’ve found that the conventional path turns me into a ladder-climbing ogre. Even if I don’t really want the carrot, I’ll chase after it – it’s just an innate drive within me. The best version of me is off the beaten path. I’m kinder these days. I’m more patient these days. Above all, I’m happier these days. If finding and being a better version of me means that the world at large views me as a “waste”, well, so be it, right?