A labor of love

I had a simple chat with one of my friend who works at a company owned by the government. Our talk revolves around our workplace, the people who work there, the working environment, and so on. In the end, we talk about what people do for living in general, and arrives at a point where she told me about a person who does what he(or she?) loves for a living. This person has spent 20 years of his love studying Monet painting that he can clearly distinguish a Monet painting from others, knows about its lines like the back of his hands, and the best part of it, he can make a living out of it.

Which returned our talk back to Indonesia. Here in Indonesia, there’s a visible discrimination between any mainstream career paths and any career paths that’s considered to be less mainstream. This can be seen as early as in high school level, where people see natural science (IPA) as something that promises better future career compared to social sciences (IPS). The same thing happens in college. Some departments are considered to be able to secure a good position in future job offers. I’ve seen this happen in my college, where departments like electrical engineering, informatics, and chemical engineering havethe highest applicants, thus giving it the highest passing grade. Meanwhile, departments such as astronomy, oceanology, and meteorology have such few applicants that ITB has decided to subsidize said departments. And why is this? Again, the answer is to get a so-called elite job in the future.

Ok now let’s forget about the education path. Even in family level, trying to start a business – even more so when it’s in a creative industry – usually encounters a no-go from parents. I have a friend who really loves to compose songs, and he majors in industrial engineering. He wanted to become a musician after he graduates, but his parents are against it. Instead, they want him to work in a company for a few years before finally pursuing his passion.

I think this is a trap that people should try to avoid. It’s true that working in a company and abandoning your seemingly impossible passion might give you a more secure future. But then again, by doing so you might feel like your life simply passed you away, minute by minute. Even right now I feel like that sometimes, wishing that instead of sitting in my cubicle and handling networks I’m somewhere abroad holed up inside a lab. Although sometimes following your passion seem to have less benefit, remember that good money comes from good work. And good work come from putting your heart into it, loving your work. For all those who dream, following it won’t be easy, but it would be worth it.


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