Is Being Happy A Viable Career Choice?

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Kirk?”

Lord, how I hated that question. I hated it because I was instantly regarded as a pus-covered leper for not having an immediate, definitive answer. It really seemed to get peoples’ panties in a bunch that at the age of, say, eleven I had no idea what I wanted to spend the entirety of my adult existence doing day in and day out.

“What do you mean you don’t know what you want to be? Do you want to be a doctor? A lawyer? A baseball player? A butcher? A baker? A candlestick maker? A beggar? A stripper? A pro burger-flipper?”

I wanted to be able to eat chocolate ice cream whenever the hell I felt like it.

I wanted to be able to get two giant German Shepherds without anyone else’s permission.

I wanted to walk into any movie theater, regardless of which rating was posted on the marquee.

I wanted to snag a copy of Playboy along with my Spidey comics.

I wanted to drive.

But I didn’t have the slightest clue what I wanted to do “for a living”. The notion of spending almost a third of my existence doing the same thing seemed like an impossible idea to me. The more it was asked of me, of course, the more I was forced to reconsider it. It eventually boiled down to what activity I could see myself spending that kind of time on.

Upon realizing the one thing I had enjoyed more than anything else my entire life*, I finally gave my first sincere answer to the question: “I want to draw pictures for a living.”

This perfectly honest answer was quickly countered with, “You can’t eat the fruit you paint, Kirk. You’ll need to pick a more practical career.”

I never stopped drawing, but I eventually ended up graduating from the University of Washington with a BA in English with a Writing Emphasis. Since then, I have held only a single position that was acquired as a direct result of my skills in the specific subject of my degree.

Today, I am a professional graphic designer and illustrator with a marked appreciation of irony.

It is true that I can’t eat the fruit I paint and that “artist” isn’t the most financially lucrative career choice. Indeed, I have yet to sell a piece of art for any staggering amount of moola and I’m a terribly long way from running my own illustrative graphics empire.

But here’s the thing: I draw pictures for a living.

When I answered that question sincerely so many years ago, it was such pure and perfect honesty because it never, even for a moment, took into account money or food or status. All the decision was based upon was happiness: doing what I loved… what made me happy.

Every morning when I get up, I am genuinely glad I get to go do what I do and actually make money at it. It’s not an obscene amount of money (though it is a quite livable one) but that’s really a non-issue when compared to the knowledge that I make my living doing what I have wanted to do ever since I so honestly answered that loathsome question many years ago.

And for the record, I have never in my life painted a picture containing fruit of any kind.

*This was, of course, before I had ever had sex. Good thing, too; the answer and resulting career choice could have been drastically different!

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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13 Responses to Is Being Happy A Viable Career Choice?

  1. Rev Stan says:

    How many people actually end up doing what they said they wanted to do at school anyway (when I was seven I wanted to be a lion tamer). The vast majority of jobs we've never heard of anyway and there can only be so many lawyers, doctors, firemen etc. I was determined that I didn't want to be a journalist right up to just before I became a journalist. Now I can't imagine doing anything else.

  2. Lauri says:

    You guys are very fortunate in doing jobs that you really enjoy! I enjoy mine, too! I work in a hospital laboratory and it is interesting and challenging and right up my alley. Who knew when I was seven years old, mixing water and red food coloring onto facial tissues to make "brains" that I would end up working with body parts in a lab??? Haha!As for your little asterisk, Kirk….does this mean you would have become a gigolo? 😉

  3. Kirk says:

    "Kirk….does this mean you would have become a gigolo?"I'd been thinking more along the lines of porn star, but gigolo also suffices, sure. 😉

  4. Jenn says:

    hehehe….I can see it, really, I can.Kirk, you are brilliant. You are smart, sexy, creative and loving.I really enjoyed this post because now, at 31 I am FINALLY doing what I've wanted to all these years. It feels good to know I enjoy waking each morning and making a difference in my own way. ~jenn

  5. Marque says:

    I love this post. Love it! You sound so satisfied and your passion shines through. I feel the same – just wish I made enough money with it – but writing is my life. I have to write – if I was offered anything in the world I most desired for the rest of my life but had to give up writing – I would never give it up. But – the only difference – I knew from the moment I knew what writing was.You are in the right profession and you definitely knew where your passion lies – because you are talented beyond belief – and it shows. xxoo

  6. Potty Mouth says:

    The first time that I was asked this question, my dad had asked me in front of a bunch of our relatives and friends thinking it would be cute. I was 6 years old and had just discovered the older boy's in the neighborhood's tree house stash.I looked at my dad and as honestly as I could have possible answered said, "I want to do what the boys do to the girls in Hustler."

  7. DJ says:

    Thank you, sir.

  8. In response to the title of this entry: I hope so. If not, then what the hell am I going to do with my life? Even at the age of twenty I can't fathom restricting myself to doing the same thing for forty years, or even knowing what I want to be doing five years from now.

  9. lizzy says:

    i think that when you do something you love, you do a much better job than you would doing anything else. 🙂

  10. I am glad you got out of the dream-killer-factories (school) and still managed to live your dream, so many of us don't :(It is sad that when as a child we answer that question our families and teachers tell us how we can't do that, or it will never work and squash our dreams, when they should be teaching us how to reach out and grab that dream and nurture it and make it a reality (okay maybe not in pottymouth's case, but…).

  11. RedScylla says:

    Does it count if I grew up and got a job that doesn't infringe on me doing what I want to do for a living?

  12. When I was little girl I wanted to be a comedianne, specifically Ruth Buzzy.
    Now at the age of 39 all I want to be when I grow up is to be a little girl 🙂

  13. Kaivalya says:

    Well said! We put so much pressure on our children to 'choose some practical.' I did just that and I was miserable for years, in a few different 'practical' careers. It was only when I stopped and listened to my heart that I found a way to do what I really loved. 'Happy' is a great career choice!

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