So often I hear questions “What do you do for a living” or “How’s the family and kids?“ I hear people say God, I can’t wait until Friday!” as they eagerly count down the days until their work week is over. It’s rare (if ever) that I hear people ask one another if they’re happy. I make it a point to ask this question, because to me, it’s the most important. Over the last two years of being a freelancer, I haven’t been happier. There are downsides, such as not having a hefty paycheck every two weeks or security for that matter. But, there are just some things that I’m unwilling to sacrifice and that is my happiness.
My dad recently retired from working the same job for as long as I’ve been alive. He’s from the era where you find a job and you don’t leave. For some reason, his generation was taught to stay loyal to the company (even if they aren’t as loyal to you). And for as long as I can remember, he’s been unhappy. Not with his life. I mean, he still came home and sprinkled his wisecrack jokes and spent time doing things he loves. He even still made me stay up all hours of the night so he could play his favorite tunes from the 60s and 70s. This is where I was taught how to play the air guitar. He kept his spirit high through it all (like father, like daughter). What bothered me was how unhappy his work made him.
He rarely brought “work home” but it tore me apart on the inside that he dragged himself to the office everyday and desperately looked forward to Friday’s. He hated Sunday’s, because he knew he had to go back to work Monday. It ruined his weekends. It made me realize that I didn’t want to live the same life that my dad lived all these years. He sacrificed SO much to support our family. Even if it meant his own happiness. Thanks to him, I learned something so important about myself through listening to him, watching him and hearing to his day to day stories. I’m not willing to sacrifice my happiness. Granted, I don’t have a family or kids to take care of and perhaps it’s selfish. But I’m allowed to be! Because my happiness is more important than anything else in this life.
I often wonder what my dad’s passion is. I see how he so passionate when he plays golf and when I see him at peace on the water in his kayak. He takes unconditional care of his pristine 15 acres of land. I listen to how passionate he is to show me something new he’s done to it when I visit him. Wonder what it would have been like had he been doing something he was passionate about. I hear far too often “I don’t know what my passion is” from people and it baffles me. In astonishment, I’m perplexed as to how do they not know?! And I also hear what people are passionate about but they’re working a job they hate. And I think, “Why?! Why do you stay?!” My dad taught me an immense deal about life but what he didn’t know was they he inspired me to follow my heart and my passion.
I threw my dad a surprise retirement party, because he said he absolutely didn’t want one. And this is where I confessed that he was the reason I’m following my passion.
“You are the reason I decided to quit my 9-5. I remember you coming home from work and I would hear you complain about how much you hated it. For so long, or maybe it was just these last few years I’ve heard it the most since you were coming closer to retirement. I listened to what it felt like to work for a family run small business and being an outsider. I looked up to you for running this business, as if you were the CEO, but I recognized that you weren’t in fact getting what you deserved. Dad, in all the years I remember, you never once called out sick.
Do you know that I’ve never once called out sick? Thank you for setting the best example a girl could ask for what it means to be a hard worker, to be committed…the morals you have, you instilled in me and I’m so proud to call you my dad. Butttt…it made me realize that I didn’t want to feel the way you felt these last few years. You inspired me to choose to do something that I love. Something that will get me excited to get out of bed everyday. I mean, I didn’t go to med school, or becoming a lawyer (hence why I asked everyone to bring a dish)…I chose an uncommon route. Which brings me to my last and final point.
I also remember sitting in the den with you at a very young age listening to you tell me about how I should be my own boss one-day. You explained to me how an electrician could make his own schedule and that I’d be needed all the time. Or how much a plumber makes…and that I’d be needed all the time. I’m sure you had other hopes on what my career choice would be, but that stuck with me. My plumbers butt might be better than the ones we’ve seen…but thank you for talking to me as a little girl about business and engraving those entrepreneurial thoughts in my head. You made me grow up to believe I could work for myself…and I’m doing it and I’m doing something I’m passionate about. I owe it to you and mom for supporting that, because I couldn’t imagine coming home from a 9-5 for the rest of my life, hating what I did.
Dad, I wanted to fill this house with love and admiration for not only the work you have put in all these years, but to really celebrate the person you are. We love you.”
If you didn’t have mom’s and dad’s, sister’s or brother’s (or other wise family members or friends) telling you to follow your passion, let me be the first to tell you that you should. You can, in fact, do anything you want….you don’t have to be stuck behind a desk everyday. You don’t have to be doing something you don’t enjoy. There are risks, but let me tell you, they’re worth it. Passion is a strong and barely controllable emotion towards something. It will make you work harder than you ever have before but it won’t feel like work. Well, it will actually feel like lots of work, but it won’t at the same time. Catch my drift?
You should really find your passion, and do that!