My Guilty Passion

5 Jul

As I sit down to write this post, I feel guilty. I feel guilty about writing.

I realised that I felt guilty about writing almost a year ago, when choosing a career path for the first time and thinking about what it was that prevented me from giving myself to the activity that I love most of all.

From a young age, I had been taught many things about life and work from the adults around me. These things include:

1) All normal people have a 9-5 job.

2) Working longer hours than everyone else actually signifies that you are talented and/or important.

3) No one ever really enjoys their job.

4) A job is a way to earn money. Having fun while we’re at it? That’s just a child’s naivety.

5) We have to pick our career path at college, study hard for it at university and become a specialist in our field by our 30s.

6) Career changes are for undecided, unmotivated people.

7) Being ‘unsure’ is almost equivalent to being a failure.

8 ) Productivity is respectful, creativity is laziness.

9) A respectful person is one who works hard, sacrifices himself at work for his family and never ever complains about his job.

10) It is selfish to choose a career that brings little money simply because one ‘enjoys’ it. Instead, one should choose a career that guarantees security and stability in order to be able to support family and be ready for any unforeseen events/circumstances.

11) Only those who have ‘achieved’ something are those who are worthy.

As you can see, writing doesn’t really come anywhere into this. As a teenager I would only write in my ‘free’ time: after I’d finished my homework, during the summer holidays or late into the night. At all other times, there were more ‘important’ things to do: revise for exams, practise my musical instruments, help with the housework, babysit…I felt guilty about spending so much time in my day doing an activity with no ‘purpose’ or no visible results. I had been taught to always do useful things first and use any remaining time for rest or play. (But if we only ever do what is useful, will we ever have any time to do what is fun?)

Despite having pinpointed the thing that prevented me from dedicating myself to writing, I continue to have feelings of guilt. Few of my friends are in the creative field; when I say “I spent a whole afternoon writing”, only one or two will sympathise in replying “Ah, I know how you feel. I spent the day painting a beautiful park”. Since moving to my new country, with a calmer, slower lifestyle, I feel almost embarrassed to tell my friends that ‘what I do all day’ is work, go for walks, ride my bike and write. This answer never seems to be satisfactory and I only receive a nod, or an “OK..”, or further questions starting with “But do you not go/do/see….”.

In their late-thirties, both my mum and her best friend had drastic career changes. They took evening classes, sat exams and started from scratch. After their final exam, my mum’s friend said something that has stuck with me since, and that has perhaps been a reason for most of the writing activities I have done in the past few years. She said “Do what you love now. There’s no point in wasting time and settling for something else. In the end, you’ll end up going back to the thing you love, anyway.”

Torn between doing what I truly love and doing something ‘respectful’ I ask myself: did Dostoevsky, Hugo or Shakespeare ever feel guilty about writing? If so, they were damn right to laugh, spit and stomp on guilt’s face!

18 Responses to “My Guilty Passion”

  1. incessantme 05/07/2011 at 10:15 #

    Wonderful post !! I too have now finally given in to my passion of writing and photography 🙂 and i am enjoying it every keeps me going !! Earlier in my life i also tried hands at many a things only to find that’s not ‘the call’..but now i feel free…feel myself 🙂
    Guess that’s what life should be…being urself…that would make u and consequently all around u happy 🙂 Cheers !!

    • l0ve0utl0ud 07/07/2011 at 20:14 #

      That’s fantastic! It is absolutely wonderful that you have found and are doing the things that bring you happiness and freedom. Keep spreading your joy to all those around you.

  2. Neha Garg 05/07/2011 at 10:37 #

    You sir .. Are a Genius 🙂 .. I completely agree with this post. As I am sure most creative types would. 🙂

    Are you on Twitter?

    • l0ve0utl0ud 07/07/2011 at 20:15 #

      I am very happy to know that there are others who feel the same way as I do 🙂 But no, I am not on Twitter. This blog is as far as my online presence goes!

  3. tammyrowlandcoaching 05/07/2011 at 11:34 #

    It took me a very long time to come to what I love. I did not know what it was until I was 50, so my hat comes off to those of you who figured it out early in life.

    I too start my day slowly enjoying the sun and a cup of tea before i walk the dog – all before I start working. It is interspersed with lazy lunches with a friend or colleague or a mid afternoon read on the back deck. There was a time when I felt that pang of guilt, but I have since quieted that saboteur, Negative Nelly as it matters not what she or any other person thinks about what I do. Frankly it is none of my business.

    So enjoy your passion now and tell your Nelly that you appreciate the concern but you’ve got it covered. Life is just much to short doing what is expected vs what you truly value – yourself.

    • l0ve0utl0ud 07/07/2011 at 20:17 #

      Thank you for your wonderful comment and for sharing your experiences. Your life sounds blissful and you are blessed to have found what you love doing – some people never do!

  4. Leslie 05/07/2011 at 18:17 #

    Love, love, LOVE this post! You carry on with your writing; enjoyment alone IS reason enough, contrary to whatever your guilt wants you to think. I’m so glad you shared this; I enjoyed reading it! 🙂 Thanks!

    • l0ve0utl0ud 07/07/2011 at 20:19 #

      I am very happy that you enjoyed reading this post, as it was very spontaneous – I had actually planned on writing about something very different, until guilt took over 😉

  5. wayne 06/07/2011 at 10:22 #

    I hope the guilt fades. It will be interesting to see how your conversations about your work days will go when the guilt fades

  6. Julia T 06/07/2011 at 15:56 #

    I love this post! You nailed it. Every point on that list is ingrained into us somehow and we’re led to believe that the traditional 9-5 suburban life is how life is supposed to turn out.

    I feel guilty about writing, too, sometimes. I feel as though I’ve strayed from the traditional path. But everyone defines success differently.

    Tammy is right. You’re lucky to have discovered your passion at a young age. On top of that, you’re a talented writer.

    My friend said to me, “It’s a gift and therefore a responsibility.” I know that sounds very “Star Wars,” but he was right.

    You have a duty to write.

    • l0ve0utl0ud 07/07/2011 at 20:33 #

      Wow, such deep words and incredibly touching comments. Thank you very much for your beautiful thoughts and for sharing your friend’s very interesting idea. It will be a true inspiration to me 🙂

  7. Victoria 06/07/2011 at 18:04 #

    Ah yes – my dear friend misplaced guilt. This little fiend visits me often. Keep fighting the good fight to quiet the dissenters trying to invade your thoughts.

    • l0ve0utl0ud 07/07/2011 at 20:34 #

      Thank you for the support. The hardest part was recognising the guilt, now it will be easier to deal with it (I hope!).

  8. Nicole 09/01/2012 at 15:07 #

    Ah, I’ve found another compatriot in the land of guilt! Thanks for your comment on my blog post — yours totally clicked for me, too. I also feel guilty sometimes about not fitting into a 9-to-5 box…and then I remember how awesome it is!
    Love your mom’s friend’s advice.
    Happy writing,

    • l0ve0utl0ud 10/01/2012 at 10:12 #

      You’re right, not fitting the 9-5 box is awesome, but does come with feelings of doubt and guilt. Thank you for your comment and all the best for your writing 🙂


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