Molly Wangen-Becker – Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Upon graduating from high school I received a gift from my mother; a ring with the words “Do what you love, love what you do” inscribed on it.  To many it can be taken as a cliché said to many graduates as they enter into the world to start discovering what they’re passionate about. To me the significance goes much deeper. I have always struggled with the idea of growing up to pursue a career in a corporation, making nothing, slaving away day after day, doing something you hate to do. As the receiving end to my complaints, concerns, and worries, my mother knows how significant it is for me to be happy. Parents always want their children to be better off than they were economically, and of course mine do too, but most importantly, my mother wants me to be happy.

I grew up in a household with two working parents. As much as my mother tried, she was not always around, due to her work schedule. At my age, my mother pursued a degree in microbiology and was in love with her studies and the research she got to do. After graduating she worked in microbiology labs across the Midwest, until it was time to settle down and return home. Unfortunately, there were no careers in microbiology near my hometown, so my mother was forced to give up her passion. Although she says she doesn’t regret it (as I suppose she needs to considering I am the reason she was forced to give up her career to move back to a smaller town), she does wish she had gotten creative in finding other job opportunities that resemble the previous work she did. She now works as a medical assistant, and although she loves working with patients, she is not truly happy, as she knows she could be doing more.

To my mother, one of the most important things in the world is to have me fulfilling my dreams, and pursuing my passion. The significance behind the quote goes so much further, as I know it is her wish for me as she was not able to do it. I have worn the ring every day for the past four years as a reminder.

One of the most beautiful aspects I have found true of the Italian culture is how much passion they have. Whether it be for their family, friends, food, or work, they are filled with passion. The number of small family businesses and larger number of artisan work that makes up the Italian labor industry is inspiring. It takes a lot to make a small business thrive and sustain itself, especially in hard economic and political times. The only logical explanation for their success is their passion.

In class we were lucky enough to witness that sense of passion first hand, with our presentation from Giovanna, an Italian goldsmith. It was inspiring because although she was not always pursuing a career in jewelry, she returned to it because she knew it would make her happy. Unlike most artisans, she was educated and had other opportunities, which sure may be more financially prosperous, but would not have made her as happy as doing what she loved. Giovanna acknowledged that there are hardships that go along with being an artisan, but that they do not outweigh the benefits of doing something you love, every single day.

This aspect is very inspiring, especially for a soon-to-be American graduate, entering into the uncertain workforce. I’ve been trained throughout my time at the University to understand that I upon graduating I am expected to do tasks I hate, work long hours, and hardly get paid, all in hopes that one day I may advance to the office upstairs and sit with others who are mindlessly working away in the cubicles next to me. Essentially we would all share the same hate for our careers, yet we would stay there because the pay was decent and there was opportunity to move up to the cubicles on the next floor. We’ve also been told repeatedly that as graduates, we need to be prepared to not find jobs after graduating, and that it is likely that we will end up fields that have nothing to do with our majors. Why is it okay to promote this type of behavior in America? We all grow up thinking we have the ability to be Rockstars and astronauts, but when the time comes and it really matters we are told we need to be rational rather than passionate. Interning in a country, and learning about a culture that embraces and prospers on passion gives me hope that I can make a life working a job that I actually do enjoy. There will be hardships and at times I may struggle to make ends meet, but what is most important is that I am doing something that makes me happy.