A woman looking over a bannister

When I started my job at an independent publishing house, I truly believed that I had found my “dream job.” It seemed like the perfect job to suit not only my skills but also my passion. I’ve always had a strong love for reading, writing and studying books. It was the one thing worth making time for as my schedule grew busier with time and age. When I started my career in the world of publishing, my mentality was a state of awe.

I get to read books for work. I get to help authors, like myself, achieve their dreams. I get to talk about books all day with other people who love books, and then, I get to go home at the end of the day and read even more books.

There are challenging days, of course, and there are the days that seem never-ending. Yet, the more I’ve learned and engaged with the company and the industry, the more captivated I am. I feel like I’m getting to be a part of something that I have always loved.

Then, four months into working in publishing, a friend reached out asking me for book recommendations, and I caught myself stuttering. I realized I had only read a few books outside of work since starting, and I felt deflated. I had been so enthralled and invested in my work, but I failed to maintain the passion that had gotten me the job in the first place. 

I had been so enthralled and invested in my work, but I failed to maintain the passion that had gotten me the job in the first place. 

I felt genuinely disappointed in myself. It hadn’t been a conscious thought because I was reading new books every single day but not in the same way that I used to. At work, I was sorting through submitted manuscripts, reading selections and giving some of the manuscripts an initial read-through.

I retired to my bookshelf to thumb through old favorites and to glance over the notations in the margins. This was what I loved. Did I even have time for it? Was I supposed to come to terms with this new stage of my passion in the context of my career?

Even after becoming conscious of the loosening grip on my passion, it was hard to make time for it. At the end of the day, my eyes would be too tired or my brain a little too fried to enjoy reading into the night like I used to. There were days where the last thing I wanted to do after work was pick up a book after spending the entire day elbows-deep in other people’s writing.

I felt conflicted. Could I still enjoy my job if I didn’t get to maintain my passion outside of work? Losing touch with this side of me felt like losing touch entirely because it’s such a defining character trait. 

I love every aspect of my job, but it’s far easier than I realized to lose touch with the original passion I had for books when I only have time to read for work. It’s a struggle to balance making time for my passion while still succeeding in my career.

Does success in my career mean sacrificing my passion? Feeling burnt out on my passion is a perplexing emotion. It’s the last thing I ever want to give up, but sometimes you have to acknowledge your limitations. 

It’s a struggle to balance making time for my passion while still succeeding in my career.

In order to protect my passion, I have created boundaries for myself. I started allotting time in the simplest ways to get back into reading in the way that I always loved. I started with a strict 15-minute timer at night before bed. Even when I was exhausted, even when I barely read three pages, I followed through. After two weeks of this, I found myself falling back into books like I always loved (even when I couldn’t continue past my 15 minutes).

I started to set strict limitations on my weekends, not bringing any of the manuscripts from work into my hands once the work week ended. I had to acknowledge that I may not read as many books as I used to in as short amount of time, but it felt good to relish in a book for pleasure, take notes for myself and not have my mind wander into the realm of cataloging and categorizing. I simply got to enjoy it. 

We could all be ever so lucky to find careers that connect us to our passions in new ways, but we can’t forget to take the time to nurture them independently for ourselves. Fan the flame of your passion and intentionally seek out  the thing that brings you joy.

Image via Raisa Zwart Photography

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