Niki's blog

Quitting Your Job to Pursue Your Passion is Bullshit

Niki Strbian valokuvaaja

Have you ever seen me post on social media “I love my job!”?
Probably, because I do post that statement. I post it when I feel happy. Which is often. I am a happy person.

In all fairness, it isn’t hard to be happy being me. I am healthy, I have a functional marriage, easy kids, lovely friends, nobody I care for suffers immeasurably and there is enough money for need and pleasure. And I really love my job.

This article is about what I feel when I am not posting “I love my job.” This article is an extension of Janelle Quibuyen’s Quitting Your Job to Pursue Your Passion is Bullshit article. As soon as I finished reading it, I had to sit down to write this, so strongly it made me feel. Janelle Quibuyen did a brilliant job, especially showing why following your passion is a lot like a privilege.

I am not going to touch upon that. But if you are interested, this is my contribution to what the less shiny part of solopreneurship looks like. Get a cuppa, stretch comfortably somewhere, and bear with me.

Do I think quitting your job to pursue your passion is bullshit?

There are definitely downs – I call them fondly The Character Trying Circumstances:

  • no career perspective (I already am a CEO, haha – and all other functions too)
  • no guidance in self-development
  • no-one to blame except yourself when things go tits up
  • no-one to delegate to
  • no-one to do your work when you fall sick
  • time for money business – when you are ill or on holidays, it’s basically unpaid leave
  • the hardship of separating you as a person from you as a product – especially at the beginning
  • the debilitating uncertainty of how the future will unfold
  • the debilitating certainty that I won’t be able to do this job until retirement – it’s very physical and if lack of demand won’t stop me, my body eventually will

There’s more, but you get the point. It might sound like a bunch of trivialities. And I knew about all of it when I was choosing this path. But knowing is very different from living it.

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Yes, I am also living the glory of being paid for doing what I love.
But that’s not a thing that comes automatically as part of the entrepreneurial package. Many employees love what they do, too. And not just bankers, lawyers, managers. I have a friend who was born to be a midwife. She LOVES it.

On the other hand, as an employee it’s ok to despise your job. If you don’t love your job as an entrepreneur, people think you are crazy.

I’ve always been a workaholic but as a solopreneur, it got a new edge – feeling guilty when I am not working. You know what else I am doing when not working? I repeat The Character Trying Circumstances in my head. In a very small voice. I imagine that’s why solopreneurs love being so busy. No time for self-destructive chants.

Also I lucked out to have a Monica syndrome (for the younger readers – Monica from Friends). I was born with an urge to please people. I want people to like me. Luckily, I meet people in happy circumstances. It’s easy for my clients to like someone who documents their happiness. But the occasional unhappy client? Crushing.

You can read success stories that entrepreneurs post around their business anniversaries. Spring is the time of my business anniversary. I am living a happy life. But this certainly wasn’t a calling.

I didn’t read an inspirational quote on Pinterest and decide to quit my full-time well-paid job.

I quit because there was literally nothing sensible to do in my full-time job. My position was pretty much redundant. Once I watched a whole Audrey Hepburn movie during the morning on my laptop in an open-space office and no-one even noticed. I didn’t want to waste my life away doing nothing (or next to nothing – which is what I consider PowerPoint-exclusive projects to be).

I quit because my company was handing out packages and I was qualified to get 11 months salary upon my voluntary leave.

I quit because at that point I’ve had my photography business running on the side for 3,5 years.

I quit because I knew I could get a job in logistics again if my little photography experiment didn’t work out.

I quit after 7 months of hard decision making.

I didn’t quit to follow my passion.

Soon it’s going to be 4 years since I quit. I should be so lucky to still feel passionate about photography in years to come. As I do today.

At the moment I am living the “I love my job” period. I have a lot of energy. I work harder than ever. When my friends worry, I joke that I became manic-depressive and this is my manic stage. I have to use it to the last ounce – before the low times come knocking on my door again.

Which is another thing that “living your dream” did to me. I always lived on sinusoidal curve. But since becoming a solopreneur, my highs became higher, and the lows lower. Mentally managing the span is exhausting at times. Hence the manic-depressive comment, with all due respect to people who actually suffer from such a condition.

But darlings, nothing to worry about. All is good in casa de Niki. I am actually loving every minute of this journey, tough bits included. To illustrate my point – I had a chat with a friend entrepreneur the other day. We were listing all of these worries and troubles. At the end she looked me in the eye and asked: “But would you change this for anything else?”

“Not in a million years.”

Just don’t let that or the social media fool you. Quitting a a job for a passion is amazing but it’s not all strawberries and cream, as the inspirational pressure nowadays tries to persuade you on every damn corner of the Internet.

Some time down the road the honeymoon with a passion-based business is over. After that everyone lives a normal life. Ups and downs included.

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Title image by my wonderful friend and an extremely talented photographer Susanna Nordvall.

Field images by the one and only Anna Jarske.

Niki Strbian Photography

Niki Strbian portraits of people who love

I photograph people who love. I want to create photographs that you will enjoy till the end of times. You should have the most wonderful memories of people you love and who love you back. Imprints of your happiness. Let’s create them together.

See my portfolio