Earlier today I tweeted “Officially reached the point where I cringe when I see the words passion and work in the same sentence.” Let me explain.
These days, where everyone has an opinion and way too many tools to express it, we love to focus on easily sharable quips of advice that seem to summarise the mood of the moment.
“Love what you do.” “Find your passion.”
I’ve made use of them myself for the little gimmicks I add to Offscreen, and in theory there is nothing wrong with a motivational poster on your wall. But there are particular messages I come across again and again, and each time they feel shallower and duller. The words ‘love’, ‘passion’, and ‘work’ (in any possible combination) follow me everywhere I go online.
Like Rachel Nabors explains in Offscreen issue No10 (also online here), these statements oversimplify the complexity of reality. We’re setting ourselves up for disappointment, especially when we preach it to the young, the up-and-coming generation of creatives.
It suggests that you are no longer allowed to just have a job. You must show passion in everything you do. You must love your profession, otherwise it’s not worth pursuing. If you don’t feel it, you have failed.
Our chantable slogans also create an illusion that we will reach a particular point where happiness sets in and everything else magically falls into place.
In reality, even if you do finally get paid for making knitted tea cup sleeves, chances are that you’re not going to be passionately pursuing that career for the next 25 years. And then what? You are back to square one.
I enjoy making Offscreen. I really do. But let’s be honest, it’s a love affair that will eventually come to an end. What happens next, I do not know. I might have to do some hard yakka I don’t particular enjoy so I can afford my overpriced coffee and take care of the bills. Heck, maybe I even have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. In that situation I think the last thing I need is a reminder that I’m doing it all wrong, because I don’t lie awake at night thinking about my work.