The Day Job-Personal Passion Balancing Act

day job-passion project balanceThis post originally appeared on The Jane Dough.

Nowadays it seems like every young, working lady we meet has some creative pursuit on the side. Assistants-slash-dancers, part-time comedians, aspiring entrepreneurs — these ladies aren’t defined by their 9 to 5; they’re actively pursuing careers that they are passionate about while holding down jobs that ensure the student loans, monthly rent, and the cell phone bill all get paid. But how do you put in your hours at the office andmuster up the energy to go on auditions? Where do you draw the line between your job and your dreams? In Day Jobs we talk with these multitasking creatives about how they make it all work.

What’s your full time job, and how did you get it?

I’m an office manager. My friend recommended me for the job, and I interviewed for it and it worked out.

What is your ultimate career goal? (Or, how is it different from what you’re doing now?)

I see my career goals changing and adapting with my work. Right now I’m doing freelance writing and journalism, and I’m also studying improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and performing stand-up comedy and storytelling on the side. I am interested in comedy, politics and media: my Bachelor’s Degree is in Politics, and I will be attending a program at the Columbia Journalism School this summer. I would love to write for a political satire show, like the Daily Show, Weekend Update or the Colbert Report.

How do you balance doing your job and working on projects/pursuits outside of your fulltime work?

It’s hard. I’m tired all the time. I work 10-6, and some weekends, but luckily I don’t have to take work home with me. Most evenings I’m taking a class or performing in a show. On weekends I’m writing, seeing shows or performing. I try to set strict rules for myself, and often times I end up staying in on a Friday night to finish a story. I also find myself doing personal projects during my fulltime job, which is something I do not recommend!

How do you stay motivated to work on those things?

You have to want it very badly. You have to want it more than anything else, and then you can motiviate yourself. Now that I’m writing for websites and have deadlines, I know that I have to meet them in order to maintain my relationships with those sites. That’s great motivation. Before that, I had a blog that I took very seriously and updated frequently because I didn’t have another means for getting my work out there. Because I took it so seriously, it led to other opportunities. Thinking of everything as an opportunity and taking my work seriously definitely motivated me to keep going.

In what ways has your day job positively impacted your creative work? (You know, besides keeping your rent paid.)

I’ve met a lot of interesting people through my day job, who I love working with and who inspire me all the time. And it pays my rent. Working as an office manager, I have to deal with finances a lot. That has helped me in all aspects of my life.

Has it made you approach your creative pursuits any differently?

It’s made me more eager to produce as much writing as possible, so that I can get a job within that field, rather than continue in a position with no upward mobility. If I had a job that fulfilled me creatively, I definitely would not be able to spend as much time developing my own voice and performing.

Do you think there’s value in having a separation between the jobs that pays your bills and the work that nourishes you creatively? If the goal is to eventually have those be one and the same, do you think there’s anything that is lost when you turn your passion projects into a career?

I think that when you turn passion projects into a career you risk losing creative control. That being said, you also gain credibility: you’ve produced such good work, that somebody wants to hire you. Since my passion projects and career have been separated for almost 2 years, I’ve been able to consider my career goals and develop my own voice – within both writing and performing. Now I’m eager to get a full-time job that nourishes me creatively, since I often feel like I have two fulltime jobs.

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