Why You Need To Do What You Love (Even When Someone Says You Suck At It)

Chasing a dream is never easy, but the most passionate people stop at nothing once they decide to go for it. Tito of Tito’s Handmade Vodka abandoned a safe job for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship after realizing in one life-changing moment that he was born to distill vodka. In partnership with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, we invited readers to submit their own passion driven tales reflecting the spirit of Tito’s Story for inclusion in a TC Original Book. After reading all the amazing submissions, we narrowed the lot of Fresh Start stories down to a few finalists. Below is one of the winning entries! Click here to read more inspirational stories in the TC original book, From Failure To Fresh Start.
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“Do what you love” is something we usually tell 17- and 18-year-olds. When I was 18, I loved Blink 182 and carbs and if I was going to do any of those things, I had a better chance at making love to a baguette than to Travis Barker. I wasn’t really sure what I was passionate about when I was choosing my career path. Hell, I didn’t even know what passion was yet.

When I landed a summer job as a physician’s assistant, people naturally started asking me if I was considering med school. I guess it was easier to nod my head than to give my future any real thought, so I nodded yes to med school a lot. I felt like a fraud walking everyone through my future plans as a doctor, but I did it anyway and I did it convincingly. I wish someone had told me back then that it’s okay not to know what you want to do with the rest of your life when you’re a teenager.

To distract myself from the Grey’s Anatomy destiny I didn’t actually want, I started dabbling in some hobbies shortly after entering school to get my health degree. I took up guitar, wrote some poetry, mastered binge drinking and spent endless amounts of time scrolling through Instagram.

Immediately, I noticed that I really liked Instagram. I mean I really liked Instagram. I liked the meme culture that was emerging, the self-branding we were all doing, the subtle advertisements we were being brainwashed with, and the amazing accounts solely dedicated to cats (i.e @cats_of_instagram).

Towards the end of my education, I slid into a New York based influencer’s DMs and asked if she needed help. I wanted in on the craze. The term influencer was just emerging at the time and basically meant anyone with 100K+ followers on Twitter or Instagram who could be paid to promote teeth whiteners or detox wraps. We exchanged a few messages, talked for a few days, and became instant friends. When she offered me a remote internship (we didn’t live in the same city), I eagerly accepted.

Within a few months, I had made my unpaid intern-friendship my top priority. I had one of those cliché epiphanies where you’re standing still but everyone around you is moving at lightening speed and I realized that this was actually my calling. I was going to pursue social media and marketing. A few months away from obtaining that ridiculously expensive piece of paper that would certify me as a university educated healthcare worker, part of me felt really good about completing my degree. But another larger, seriously anxious, Jessie Spano-on-caffeine-pills part of me was not proud of the seemingly fraudulent accomplishment.

I’ll have to live with that weak part of me, remembering that I also get to live with the really strong part of me that picked myself up and figured things out.

I invested all of my post-grad time in my internship. Eventually, I isolated myself from friends and family, put my relationship on hold, and immersed myself fully in an Instagram influencer’s goals. I was that passionate about social media marketing. But the harder I worked, the more toxicity I seemed to attract. Our working relationship became frightening and I was being consumed in a cruel way. I couldn’t believe how I’d gone from being Internet friends with someone to an Internet punching bag for someone.

I began paying to be her intern—not directly, but essentially— because the abuse escalated to the point that I secretly sought therapy. Being a university graduate without a health insurance, I was effectively paying $150 a week to continue working for a dictatorial witch while being asked “And how does that make you feel?” by a stranger. I loved the witch’s brand, and I was passionate about social media and marketing, but the “job” was killing me.

One snowy night, my non-paying boss called me and I knew it wasn’t good news. My voice was as unstable as Tara Reid in the early 2000s. She spoke calmly and kindly, like the boss I used to know, while explaining that she “couldn’t do this to me anymore.”

“I just don’t think media is for you,” she said. “You’re a good person, a good friend, but maybe you should get back into the health field. You’re just not good at this.”

The words cut like a knife. I couldn’t believe I’d wasted my time and effort, and risked my wellbeing on someone who would end up telling me to give up. I was hurt as her friend, and torn to shreds as her employee. I accepted her words, thanked her for the experience, and hung up.

After crying for a week, eating way too many carbs, and listening to Spotify’s “Rainy Days” playlist 32 times, I decided that this was not going to be the nail in my media marketing coffin. I decided to lay it all on the line and apply for a job at the biggest award-winning media and marketing agency out there. To play it safe, I also applied to a few semi-good ones, and some mediocre ones.

I told my story and confessed my love for social media like a drunk girl in a club over and over again to agencies all around town. How did it go? Well, today, despite having an education in health, I handle the media and marketing for multi-million dollar companies—ones that rhyme with Shmepsi, Smercedez Smenz and ShMcDonalds—so I think things are going pretty well!

Every day, I wake up knowing that I chose this life. It definitely wasn’t easy, but after dealing with serious emotional abuse at the hands of my first boss, I knew I could handle just about anything. Do I have regrets? Sure, I should not have allowed myself to be abused for so long. I’ll have to live with that weak part of me, remembering that I also get to live with the really strong part of me that picked myself up and figured things out. The part that doesn’t give up when someone says I can’t do something I truly love. Thought Catalog Logo Mark