I’ve heard it said, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I call bull on that. I love what I do, and what I plan to continue doing after graduation. I love the realm of community management with an emphasis on agriculture. But I work hard. I work hard to build relationships, to see connections, to find new and interesting ways to spark conversation. I love it. I love that exhausted feeling of fulfillment after a milestone is reached. I love that even when I feel worn down, I can find satisfaction in seeing the relationships that can truly be built. I may love what I do, but I still consider it work. With that said, I think it’s that realization that lays the foundation for the rest of this post.
I’ve realized I’m not a “settler.” I once thought I could take any situation and make the most of it. While I like to think I can still do that in some ways (see The Leap List), in other ways, I’ve realized that there really are times when striving for happiness is truly called for.
I’d like to rewrite that quote that I opened with. It should be closer to this: “If you love what you do, you’ll work your ass off and feel fulfilled.” I mean, not every day will be sunshine and roses. Even the best, most ideal jobs come with stress, moments of doubt, and occasional frustration. But, the long-term rewards of the situation? If those make you smile at the end of the day, you’ve got it. Hang onto it.
I see it in agriculture everyday. I recently became fast friends with a rancher named Ty who blogs about ranching and trying to train a tightly-wound cattledog named Scout. Ty loves his job. Ty is in the middle of conquering calving season. Calves are being born left and right. He’s sleep-deprived, exhausted, and stressed. And things don’t always go as planned. He wrote an absolutely moving, heart-breaking blog post about losing a newborn calf. It’s the kind of day that makes the work emotionally draining. For what it’s worth, though, Ty will still tell you that he’s got one of the best jobs out there. It’s his calling. Ranching is what he’s meant to do. And he goes back at it each and every day with a determination and drive that leaves me in awe. Ranching’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s stressful. It’s isolated. Yet, he loves it.
This applies to more than just work, though. Recently, my absolutely adorable and sweet friend Jenny announced that she’s leaving her native land of Chico, California to move to the North Dakota prairies. She’s relocating to live with her boyfriend, a farmer-agronomist named Mark. They met over Twitter. The massive lifestyle changes are going to be tough. But, when you know what you need to do in life, it’s hard to look any other way. Will the differences between California and North Dakota be hard now and then? Yes. Will leaving California be stressful? Of course. But Mark and Jenny know. And the emotional investment’s long-term (even lifelong) rewards are so much greater than the momentary difficulties that may arise while they pave the way for a beautiful life together. You can read about Jenny and Mark’s story here.
When career and personal life mesh into the feeling of “I need to do this,” it can be pretty powerful.
I’m still not ready to openly discuss specifics. But, I know what I want to do with my life after college. I know what I need. I know the direction my life is going in, and right now, it’s the light at the end of the dark tunnel that is the remainder of my college career. In many ways, I’m already doing what I love. The clients and the setting will change over time, but the work I am doing is the work that I want my career to start with. And I know my responsibilities and roles within that career path will change as I evolve as person.
I’m finding my direction. I know where I want to go, what I want to do. And let me tell you, it’s a pretty fantastic feeling. Does it make dealing with the last few months of college that much harder? Yes. Does it make the wait for bigger, better things seem that much longer? Of course. Does knowing these changes are coming make me sad to leave behind certain people and things? Hell yes. But, it’s all worth it.
I work hard. And I’ll continue to work hard. I’ll face changes and uncertainty and doubt and loneliness and fear. But, because I love what I do and where my life is going, all that hard work and all those brief moments are turmoil are just a small price to pay for real happiness in life.