The Dilemma Of Being Paid To Do What You Love

And How To Keep Your Passion Alive

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash


As a young girl I absolutely loved to dance. I remember watching my older sister in a Ballet class when I was five years old and being utterly mesmerized. At that age I didn’t know what it was about dance that was so appealing to me, but I begged my mum to sign me up for class and twenty-three years later I am dancing professionally in London’s West End.

I know that I am one of the lucky ones because few people are paid to do what they love. I am grateful and honoured to be where I am today and wouldn’t change it for the world. But the dichotomy of love and hate asserts itself once your passion becomes your livelihood.

It adds pressure 

If I am unable to execute my choreography I can lose my job. If I lose my job I can’t pay rent or afford food (London is an expensive city!). This adds extraneous pressure to an already high-pressured art form. Now my concern isn’t just about being good at my art, but about making enough money from it. Similarly, writers are under pressure to meet deadlines, and artists have to meet certain criteria to be accepted into galleries.

Your self-doubt increases

When you start auditioning for jobs you hear “no” more often than you hear “yes”. You start to question whether you are good enough or whether you should just quit. I know countless dancers who have quit dance because they were unable to find a job after graduating from University. Discouraged and broke, they chose to walk away from an art form they once loved. Similarly, musicians often question their ability to break into mainstream and actors who aspire to work in Hollywood often quit after being told “no” by hundreds of casting agents. It becomes all too easy to get into the habit of measuring our self-worth based on other people’s opinions.

You take on projects you don’t believe in just to make ends meet

This is true especially at the beginning of your career. You have no professional experience and need to pay your bills so any work is good work. You take that job at the magazine you don’t like, or you work with that obnoxious choreographer, until one day you forgot why you pursued this career in the first place.

You lose your sense of freedom

When you are working for a choreographer you have to perform the way he wants you to. When writing for that editorial, there are certain guidelines you have to comply with. It is normal to lose that sense of total abandon you used to feel when you were making art for the sake of art.

Keeping Your Passion Alive

Keep making your own art

Whether you are being paid to dance, sing, paint, or write, never stop making your own art. Finding time outside of your job to create will give you back the sense of joy and ease you had when you started.

Never stop learning

Try new dance classes, art forms or vocations. Life is about evolution and only when we remain static do we lose our sense of freedom. We need to evolve with life and our passions need to evolve with us. Never be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone.

Remember why you started

When I think back to the day I saw my sister in Ballet class, remembering my sense of wonder makes me smile. Where would I be now if I weren’t a dancer? How different would my life be, had I not watched her in that class? Dance has shaped me so much as a human being that I can’t imagine my life without it.

You are one of the lucky ones

Remember that we are the few. Most people can only dream of being paid to do what they love (just look at all the miserable Monday morning commuters!) It would do us good not to take it for granted.


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