do what you love. maybe. if you’re lucky.

I am beginning a series of posts that are going to try and make sense of the many emotions that I, and I believe many others, are feeling as we try to navigate adulthood.

There are many different things that contribute to these anxieties we all seem to be riddled with and I am going to try to flesh them out. In my head they are all mushed together and I can’t make sense of them. I am tempted to regress into a hole where I don’t think of any of them, keep working my barista job and hope something falls in my lap. But that is unproductive and maybe having a conversation (even if it is just with myself) will help.

*As an aside: This is all from my own perspective and emotions and I don’t mean to say any way someone is living their life is wrong. I would very much love for people to explain to me how they feel about these things. That’s the whole point.

“Do What You Love”

…really? Oh it is that easy. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

I’m just not so sure. What I love most is eating really good food and spending time with the people I love the most. There has never been a career-oriented bone in my body. That’s not to say I’m lazy or have a bad work ethic. I love working hard on things, and seeing projects to the end, and feeling like ‘I made this’, but having my job be the number one priority in my life, ladder climbing at the expense of anything else that may get in the way, has never for a second seemed glamorous.

I have never understood it, but for those who do, good for you. I seriously envy it because I don’t think I’d be writing this if I were like you.

To me there seems to be three options for survival:

  1. Make your favorite hobby your career. No matter how much money it makes you or what kind of lifestyle you have to lead to get it. Just make sure it’s what you love and you’re happy and if you make it “big”, even better. (This is LA’s favorite.)
  2. Who cares if it makes you happy? Get the best job you can, work your ass off, climb the ladder and don’t look out for anyone but yourself. All the money you make will make you happy.
  3. Figure out what you’re good at, work really hard at it even if it’s not fun, and do the things you love in your spare time.

Each of these have problems for me. The first option: I want to have a family one day and that costs money and if I don’t make it big, then what? I’d also like to have a savings account for, ya know, emergencies. The second: I can’t really believe that I’ll get to the end of my life and be siked about choosing this option. As I mentioned before, spending time with people is what fulfills me the most and if that isn’t an option then my life is a waste. (I am also a follower of Jesus and this option is pretty opposite of what I believe we were designed for, but that’s a whole other conversation.) The third: this one seems like the best option for someone like me who doesn’t have the career-oriented drive, but then I end up feeling badly that I’m not working “hard enough” or am “passionate” about what I am doing to make money and I feel a bit boring especially living in Los Angeles but that will be a separate post.

My father is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known and never slacked off for a second. I also can’t remember one childhood experience where he wasn’t there. If you asked him why he works so hard it was always to provide for his family. Does my dad do what he loves the most? No. But he has a job that plays to his strengths and he’s great at it. And I know that my father feels extremely fulfilled in life, he doesn’t feel like he’s missing anything. But I know many people that would scoff at that and say that he wasted his life not doing what he loved. Not enough freedom and self-exploration.

What if the thing you love and are most passionate about just so happens to be making you a successful career and enough money to pay all of your bills and then some? Amazing. I think the world would call you the “lucky ones”. But are you making sure your career and personal life are not mixing too much to the point where you treat them as the same thing causing emotional damage to humans you treat like work? I saw a tweet that is aimed at being funny, and it is, but I think holds a lot more weight than we ever consider. “It’s just like the old saying ‘do what you love for a living and the increasingly unclear distinction between your personal and professional identity will make it extremely difficult to feel emotionally secure at basically any point in the process.'” Oop.

I am prepared for the answer people give me to this being “Every one is on a different path and you just have to do what is best for you personally”. Fine, but then why do I feel so bad all of the time? Is this just a personal insecurity issue that can be wrapped up in “Tori needs to grow up and stop comparing her journey to other peoples?”. Maybe, but I think that’s a lot easier said than done.

The messages we are receiving now on every media platform are extremely mixed. I feel like I am being screamed at all of the time which just causes further regression. I shouldn’t waste a minute of my life doing something I don’t love, but I should also probably start thinking about that 401K.

What the hell is going on and why didn’t our parents feel this and is it good or bad they didn’t feel this? Is it solely a social media comparison problem? I’d actually completely buy that theory and be tempted to delete all of mine if companies didn’t need to vet my accounts before wanting to hire me!!

I hope to converse with people on this, people that are doing all different versions of those three options, people from different cities and backgrounds. I’d love to know if you’re feeling fulfilled and if not what you plan to do to fix it, if anything. Thank you in advance.

Check back for more aspects of this existential quarter-life crisis I’m having!



5 thoughts on “do what you love. maybe. if you’re lucky.

  1. We don’t know each other well but I found everything you said interesting. I am currently 25-years-old, living in Huntsville, Alabama was with my husband of 6 months, and I have two college degrees, both in nursing, my second specializing in being a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Currently, I work 5 days a week, 40 hours, as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at a mental health center in a more rural town in Alabama. I have my own office, a six-figure salary, and drug reps who beg to see me and sell me on using their medications over others almost every day. I see about 10-15 patients a day and my life is really cushy. Easy, almost. HOWEVER, I’m bored. I don’t feel fulfilled. I feel like the passion I once felt for mental illness has been drained out of me by doing the same dang thing day in and day out. My life is so comfortable, it’s gotten boring and I’m still so young, this scares me. Just something to think about…


  2. 1. I love you and miss you
    2. The point you made about your dad I have thought about and always admired the way he was able to provide and relate as a parent coming from a place where my adult journey has shown me how hard doing it completely on your own is.
    3. I believe that our generation has a level of compassion and understanding that is needed because in the last 20-30 Years our culture has shifted for the worse. And our parents and grandparents generation who had totally opposite up bringing ( ex. Gender identification, drug addiction) are trying to handle things they don’t understand
    4. Money is the root of all evil , it takes a level of faith that not everyone has to venture out to do what you love and you feel “ called to do” since our friends dad died I’ve felt a drive to wake up and do what I care about he’s blessed me to pay my bills but I’ve had to fight for this ability and it’s caused a lot of tension at times between me and my husband 🤪 but I’ve seen God’s grace in such real ways. So you are not the only one waking up feeling guilty no Victoria you don’t need to grow up

    5. I’ve also learned that Jesus doesn’t want us to be miserable if you’re responsibilities are being handled , you bring Him glory by exercising your talents / hobbies whatever those are DO THEM 😘


  3. If you feel like you need to find something you’re good to make a career out of then make it work for your interests! (Option 3) If you love spending time with positive people who have a good head on their shoulders work for your church maybe? Be surrounded by people who make your job feel fun and enjoyable. Dain worked tech support at GoDaddy just because he wanted to be around tech/design then 3 years later he was creative director. Whatever you are good at try to work in a position alongside your interests it will make work feel like play. Spending time working with friends all day and hanging out with friends all night isn’t a bad life. It may sound easier said then done but every field is competitive, it’s always hard. That’s what makes it so worth it once you get a new thing going.

    Personally, I don’t make enough money to live close to comfortable in LA. I’ve made so many sacrifices, said no to fun, food, entertainment. There was one point we didn’t get paid for almost 3 months but I know it’s not worth getting a “real” job. It would be soul-sucking and it would be temporary. My roommate is doing (Option 2) and comparing our general attitudes towards life is insanely different. His weekends are filled with mind-numbing activities and generally, he’s upset about everything. Growing spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally seem to feel more fun and valuable. But I don’t have any close friends literally they live too far away. That’s my struggle, so I continue to enjoy doing what I love and cherish the few days I get to spend with the people who make me laugh.

    My perspective is, I am lucky enough to be around people who are more talented, experienced, and intelligent then I am. They help me grow creatively and keep me stimulated to keep going. Staying creative is the only thing that I feel matters and feels right, not the money, or the recognition, or the validating opinions of others. If you are doing something that makes you happy it’s worth it. The people and the fulfilling experiences you share with them make it worth it. (Option 1)

    Life feels like an endless game of perspective. Remind yourself that you have come so far. From the east coast to almost 24/7 beautiful California. You live in the place almost everyone wants to move to or visit for vacation. You have real friends who care about you and your well being. A family who will always love you. Walking down the wrong street in LA and witnessing someone’s challenging life is a reminder of how good we have it.

    Even the people you envy are struggling with something. I’ve looked at your life through the social media lens you have crafted, looks lovely. Food, friends, family, laughter, events, traveling to new places. Looks like you’ve been up to a lot and have so much going for you. Looks like you are living it up! You shouldn’t feel bad all of the time if you have all this going for you. We all are guilty of wanting to be in somebody else’s shoes, but it’s not that good. The best moments are shared with the people you love, that’s it. I propose you try to work with people like that, as much as you can and everything else will fall into place. It will never be enough and finding enjoyment in the journey is what you have to try your best to do.

    Just be above it. The distinction between your personal and professional identity should be insanely close. Be yourself always. Emotionally you should feel confident that you are yourself and not a fake version or projecting an image of yourself. Stop listening to social media and start listening to your heart. Treat yourself like your own best friend. Your best friend wouldn’t ever say anything negative to bring you down. That inner voice needs to be encouraging as much as possible. Don’t criticise yourself or your life compared to others. Your life is filled with millions of different experiences from everyone else. Just reflect and appreciate the blessings.

    Try your best every single day that’s all you can do. I hope you got something a little out of this, I probably wrote too much. Anyways you’re such a lovely individual you have so much to offer!!


  4. For Tori
    Hi Tori. My name is Kyle Monaghan. I began following your Instagram a few years ago. Via Taylor Simmons, who dated my good friend, Colby Kish. I’m responding to your recent post about the the quarter-life crisis.

    I’m 28. The mid and latter half of my twenties have been the most turmoil-ridden days of my life thus far. I’ve had 16 different jobs since my teen years, went to college at UMD, and have dabbled in the arts as well as cubicles.

    Like you, I constantly weighed my options.. and just as I thought I had decided on a path, all of the reasons why it wouldn’t work flooded my head and forced me to change my mind.

    We’re inundated with all sorts of “follow your dreams” bullshit on social media constantly. I think this is an evil hand in a velvet glove. It seems to make so much sense, right? It sounds so positive and inspiring, but leads so many of us into darkness. Because what the heck are our “dreams”? Our “passions”? We change as we grow. Our interests change, our motives change. And this idea of following our dreams only leads to confusion and depression.

    I wanted to be a rapper for the longest time. I was good at it. Really good. I loved it.. until I realized I only loved the IDEA of it. Every time I’d go to record, I’d stress out so much. I hated the process. I was finally able to be honest and transparent with myself. Just because I liked to rap and thought it’d be a great pursuit; I simply admitted to myself that it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t for me. And it was as simple as that. I let it go. And I feel liberated.

    I read your 3 options. The route I chose to take is probably closest to the third one on your list.

    Here is my philosophy:

    First and foremost, we MUST change our definition of the word “work.” Because in our society, the word is synonymous with stress and emptiness. Rarely is the word “work” used in a positive manner. But think about this; almost everything we need for survival is provided to us by other hard-working people. Somebody build the car we drive, somebody brought the gas to the gas station.. somebody stitched up the clothes in our closet.. somebody built the phone you’re holding.. somebody stocked the shelves in the grocery store. People just like you and me. People who aren’t necessarily “passionate” about what they do for work, but they’re contributing to the overall well-being of their fellow human beings. They’re providing value for others. Which brings me to my next way of thinking;

    Second, once we take away the negative connotation of the word “work”, we have to realize what we are ACTUALLY doing 8+ hours, 5 days a week: we are helping other people! I really began to have a different perspective of working once I stopped looking inwardly.. once I stopping making it all about me. Because it’s not. It’s about all of the people who benefit by my work. I recently began a career as a mechanic. Is it my passion? Not necessarily. My passion is good people and love. (Like you said, can’t make us money!) But I’m good at it, and it’s where my natural inclinations lie. And with every car I service, I think about the family driving it.. the family who doesn’t have the knowledge, capability, or time to service it themselves. Again, it’s not about me. But I’m blessed to be able to go home with some money to support myself in doing it.

    Think about it work/the economy like this: it’s all just one big, disconnected form of trading. You offer artistic advertising services. Well, maybe the guy who grew the apples doesn’t need any of those services, but he will take money as compensation. Money you earned from a wood-worker who DID need your artistic skills to push his business, but you didn’t need any wood-working done at the time, So he gave you a neutral good instead.. which could be traded elsewhere for anything else you needed: This neutral good is money.

    So I’m summary, it is hard. Social media makes it look like everyone is killing it.. following their dreams, getting married, and perfectly at peace. And like you, I get distorted by scrolling through my Instagram. But the truth is; these people are also just as confused as us. But it doesn’t have to be so hard. We just have to offer something others need, and something that earns us the life we want. If you’re good at it, you’ll enjoy it naturally.

    Forget passion. Love is passion.. but Work is skill. Skill earns us a living and gives us a sense of satisfaction in helping others. Passionate Love makes life worth living, and what better way to live than to help others, then go home to the house you’ve earned in doing so, full of your loved ones?


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