Should your avocation be your vocation?

We hear this as career advice so often “Do what you love!”

Is this always a good idea? I have a friend who loved to read and became an English major and, in due course, an English professor. Now she has to read for work and never ever reads for pleasure. She has lost reading as an avocation.

I used to love massaging friends and family and my grateful boyfriend. Aha, I thought. I went to massage therapy school and discovered that doing it 8 hours (or even 4) a day was no fun at all. Doing it for money was no fun at all. So abandoned that as a career idea. Since I had to do so much massge to complete the schooling, I came to really dislike massaging even my friends and family, and the boyfriend who is now my husband has to cajole me big time just to get his achin’ tootsies rubbed.

Is it possible that by “doing what you love” for a living you’ll cease to love it? Does this sometimes actually work out for people?

I’m sure it does work out for some people, but I think you have to be very careful about understanding yourself for it to work. First off, I think most people “love” doing lots of things. Most of us, however, only have one career at a time. I’m a librarian. Do I love it? Enh. But I’m good at it. Good as hell, in fact. While I was in library school, I had a job I hated. Hated. Hated the way Roger Ebert hated North. But damn, was I good at it.

I love watching movies. Would I want to be a movie critic, full time, get my way paid to see all the movies I could sit still for, usually weeks before anyone else? Sure. For about six months. Then I’d never want to see another movie again.

Now and again, I try to be a writer. Do I think I’ll ever make a living at it? Probably not. I’m not terribly good. But I enjoy it, usually, so I’ll probably keep doing it whether I make a living at it or not.

All that being said, I am where I am today because when I was 18, I figured I should do what I loved. I was going into theater. Directing, playwrighting, maybe acting here and there. Problem was, I found I didn’t love it enough to get me through the crap part of it. So I decided I’d teach English instead. Then I found libraries and knew I’d found something I could do well that made me feel good to do.

And since my career as a porn star was going nowhere … here I am. :smiley:

Sometimes it can work the other way around.

I’ve had a modicum of the experience you describe in the OP. When I left high school, I embarked upon a desired career as a musician. Rock was then in what’s now called its “classic” heyday, and while I was enamored of that, I had other interests as well.

I spent four years after high-school as a full-time professional drummer playing with many bands and found that, in order to work regularly, I had to perform top pop perfunctorily, and my few opportunities to soar often enough came with contemporaries who were too often too druggified to be reliable. I became tired of playing “Mama don’t dance and your Daddy don’t rock n’ roll” as it was no longer fun - it was work for small wages.

My entire professional (in the sense of being paid to produce heavenly sounds) music career lasted for almost twenty years, but the tail half was just a smattering of helpin’ out friends. And it had long since become dissatisfying.

But, as I wrapped up college, I almost accidentily became hired by an oil & gas exploration company that decided I was a good candidate, with my science background, to be groomed as an exploration geophysicist.

I’ll frankly admit that I’d never even considered such before talking to the friend who gave me this lead.

Twenty-two years later, I can say that geophysics has been/become a fascinating endeavor. While I do work under a fair amount of pressure, that’s fine. Don’t most people?

And the work itself is ever revealing. It’s as if I have a job as chief puzzle-solver. And I remain taken with it.