Love and Work by Subhadra Jayaraman

Classically, these two go hand-in-hand. Love and work. Many successful businessmen and philosophers have said something or the other about loving your job and having a passion and that being the only way to be truly satisfied and move forward in life. There is definitely some truth in this, and I can vouch for this system of loving your work and striving to do what you desire from personal experience.

All my life so far, I have had to sacrifice money, luxury, and sometimes place in society just to pursue what I love for my career. When everyone else who studied biotechnology in the early 2010s was herded into IT companies, it was a struggle to keep hacking at the small biotech and pharma industry and work for peanuts the first four years as I tried to build my profession and make myself a space in the research industry. I could not make myself sit in front of a computer and write codes when my mind was set at wearing lab coats and analyzing biological molecules. As a result of IT monopolizing the market in that time, I never had too much money, had to plan well in advance if I wanted to take a trip with my friends, and had to cut corners when it came to living on my own in an apartment and afford certain common luxuries. Truth be told, I lived like that for a long time, and am still recovering from that life. I finished grad school only a year ago and still do some of the above to sustain myself, being a recent graduate and new to the workforce.

The society reacted in different ways. Some tut-tut-ed at my life choices. Some rolled their eyes when they heard the word “passion” and saw me living in a PG (paying guest, a sort of shared accommodation like a hostel) when my peers lived in one-bedroom apartments. Some could relate with me and recalled the times they had their first jobs and earned peanuts too. Some gave me a pat on the back and wished me luck. But from where I stood, I could not be more thankful of the life I had. I was not comparing myself to my classmates who went on to earn a lot of money and bought a house before they were 25. I was comparing myself to those who hated to go to work, who disliked their job, who were stressing out every day. I was happy, self-sufficient, in love with my job, and all I remember from those days were the laughs and the good times, the happiness of going to work. I never missed a single day of work because I was bored or ‘didn’t feel like it’. Where I am today, is a result of what choices I made when I was 19. I am not wealthy if you count it in dollars, but I am if you count it in ounces of peace, or pounds of satisfaction, or pennies of confidence.

While I am a true believer in loving your work and putting in the extra effort to follow what you truly believe in, I do realize that it is not in everyone’s fortune to be able to do so. I was lucky to have a remarkably supportive mother who took many falls for me to be able to make it; and a great family who believed in me. But not all of us have the ability to do trivial things as pursue our dreams. Dreams are for the fortunate. When you have responsibilities in life that stump any passion of becoming a painter or a writer, it is hard to connect with stories of ‘love and work’ and hard not to roll your eyes at the position of privilege this writing is coming from. To those, I raise my glass in appreciation. To those, I say that today’s circumstances will not be the ones of tomorrow. To those, I suggest to not push their passions to the corner of the closet just because of something as trivial as life. There is no dearth of stories of people who followed their dreams despite hardships and made it. The least you can do to respect your passions and move to a state of loving your work, is to pull it out from that shelf, dust it, and polish it now and then. Remember that you have one life and remember that that life will always come in the way of everything anyone attempts to do. While we are served disproportionate shares of good and bad fortunes, it is we who decide if we submit to life or conquer it.

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