How to Do What You Love (When You Don’t Feel Like It)

A couple of months ago I said goodbye to the oil and gas business in order to focus on my two loves: cooking and writing. And so far, other than the lack of cash, I am happy with that choice. Even when I am bone tired, frequently outside my comfort zone and working very hard for free, I feel satisfied.
So imagine my surprise when I found myself procrastinating heading into the restaurant Friday afternoon for another chance to live the dream.
I am so tired. Can’t I just sit here on the couch and read a book? I asked myself silently. I need to take a break. That thought quickly escalated into more existential analysis: Why am I doing this? What is my big plan? Shouldn’t I have a plan? Do I even want to do this?
These thoughts followed me out the door, on the road and into the kitchen, where I uncharacteristically showed up a full 30 minutes later than normal for my shift. Passing the chef, I pasted on a smile, set down my knives and put on an apron. No time for angst. Time to get to work.
“Miss Jessica,” he said cheerfully. “I have a special app that I want you to be in charge of tonight. I want you to make it, assemble it and come up with your own presentation and description.”
Secret ingredient: fig. One of my favorites. Stuffing: goat cheese, honey and thyme. Awesome. Packaging: prosciutto. More things should arrive prosciutto wrapped.
Feeling excited, I began my work, but as the hours passed, excitement became irritation and anxiety. In a packed and tiny kitchen, you are often in people’s way or pulled off task to meet other requests. The frequent interruptions and the pressure of creating a dish on the spot were not sitting well with my already resistant psyche.
To my horror, I actually told Chef I wasn’t given enough time to prepare and that I didn’t know what I was doing. Understandably, neither of those comments went over very well, and soon after, I presented my plate to the Chef, bracing for the worst.
The dish was not a disaster. The critique was fair, and I received a valuable lesson on how to manage space on a plate. With two small adjustments, we had an appetizer ready for service. (In fact, it sold out that evening.)
Still my sour mood persisted as we suited up, and I took my place next to Chef on the line. Despite my efforts to hide it, my lack of sunshine was peeking through. Less than an hour into the evening, he asked what was up.
“I am okay. In a bad mood tonight, but not sure why,” I said.
“Go home,” he said abruptly. “I don’t need anyone in my kitchen in a bad mood.”
This pronouncement jolted me to my senses. Suddenly, I wanted very much to be there and back peddled sufficiently to avoid banishment. And thank goodness for that moment because all of the noise in my head could not silence the truth: I want to be here.
And once I wanted to be there, the night immediately improved.
We all have those days when our best intentions meet with inertia or resistance. We hit snooze. We drag our feet. We call in sick.

Even when we do what we love, we aren’t going to love doing it every day. Some days, the running shoes stay in the closet, the Rosetta Stone lesson stays unopened and you order takeout instead of trying that new recipe.

Other days, you power through a bad run or spend a day screwing things up in a kitchen, and can only take comfort in the fact you put in the time (however disappointing) in spite of your own efforts to sabotage yourself.
The good days, the bad days and all the days in between are allpart of living the dream. One day is just one day.

Maybe, like me, you sometimes forget how much you actually do love what you are doing. And if you are lucky, life will (gently) kick you in the head and remind you. Allow those “I want to be here” realizations to carry you through the days when you aren’t so sure. On a particularly underwhelming day, you may be pleasantly surprised by how content you are.

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