musings and rantings of a blue state non bio mom

the real-life adventures of me, my partner, and our journey through ivf-enabled same sex TWIN motherhood (with not so infrequent rantings about politics in general).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wednesday Morning Wonderings

Why can't people just do what they feel passionate about in life? I teach college and, when I ask them what they intend to do with their lives once they've finished school (an admittedly awful question to be asked), most of my students answer: "I am going to law school" or "I will go into business." When I ask them why, they respond that they have no idea what else to do with their lives and this is their default position because it seems respectable and lucrative.

Then I ask them a better question: What are you passionate about? If there were no constraints, what would you really want to do in life?" The student who just left my office said "I've always wanted to be a chef. I'd really like to go to cooking school. But I need to make money, and if I'm going to be a chef, why I am here (at high powered but not too high powered liberal arts institution that costs big bucks)?" The answer to his last question is pretty simple for me: to get an education (chefs are better chefs when they've read Marx, right?). But then again I am not paying the big bucks. But it does make me wonder: wouldn't we be better off embracing our dreams than embracing some ideal money-making-career that we hate?

I hope that I can raise my kids this way: learn because you love to learn, and do something in life about which you are passionate. And if the two things are connected, great. If not, just be a well-read carpenter (god knows I need more bookshelves), or plumber, or chef, or whatever your heart guides you to be.



  • At 6:37 AM, Blogger Oz said…

    That's a nice ideal, but how practical is it? I think that if you did ask everyone what they were passionate about, probably more than 50% would answer: acting/singing/writing/painting/photography. How would the world work if 50% of the population did that? For instance, let's take a car, something most of us need in our society. Who will sell us our cars? Who will transport the cars to the dealership? Who will drill for the oil? Who will refine the oil into gas? Who will transport the gas to the gas station? Who will work at the gas station? Who will process the credit card transactions for the gas? Who will change the oil? Who will sell us the insurance for the car? Who will process the claims? I could go on and on (you might say I already have :) ), and that's just one aspect of my day--driving a car. What about everything else? Very, very few people are passionate about ANY of the jobs listed above, but someone has to do them.

    Although it would be great if we could all do something we are passionate about, I think that a better way to happiness is to find that happiness outside of our jobs. I am lucky in that I get to do what I love--raise my daughter. My partner, however, works in the insurance industry. Is it her true love? No. We are--her wife and her daughter. She does her job, and it's fine--not horrible or anything. Then she comes home and gets to be with her family and do other hobbies and activities that she does love and that the income from her job makes possible.

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger abster said…

    Hi Ozzilyn,

    True enough. It's just that I get so tired of hearing every one (well, almost every one) of my students coming into my office responding with "I want to be a lawyer" or "I want to major in Business" without really knowing what being a lawyer or business person really entails, and without any particular skill, passion, or whatever in that direction. They do this just because being a lawyer or going into business (who knows what kind? who really cares?) sounds respectable for relatively spoiled upper middle class college educated kids. I totally think that those professions are fine, and I do know students who would make wonderful lawyers or business people who display real acumen for these professions. And it's also fine to choose to do something practical that pays the bills because it *is* practical to pay bills, after all. But what's sad to see is a bunch of 20 year olds choosing default careers before they even explored whether their passions have a practical side to them just because they cannot imagine that doing something that they love can also constitute a career.

    Your point about work not being life is well taken, however. My ideal is some sort of balance--enjoying one's home life (whatever that entails, and it does entail different things at different stages of one's life) and one's job, and balancing both so that things don't get out of whack.

    And, of course, I realize totally how bourgeois all of this sounds. Most people have no choices--they do what they have to do to survive. I wish my students realized how lucky most of them are that they even have the opportunities they have to make decisions about what they choose to do in their lives.


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