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Wil Wheaton and the Value of Passionately Pursuing What You Love

in Do What You Love, Joan's Posts, Rants, Videos

obrigado

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

What does it mean to do what you love??

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. As one of the key voices here on Man Vs. Debt, a large part of my goal is to uphold our core values: Sell Your Crap. Pay Off Your Debt. Do What You Love.

I feel like I’m working hard on that whole crap-sellin’-debt-payin’ deal. Lately, I think I’ve been hitting those a little too hard, and I’m losing sight of my big why, the reason that keeps me going through icky months.

Then something comes along and wakes me up, and I think: YES! The MvD community needs to see this.

Wil Wheaton on being a nerd

You might have already seen this video making the rounds this month. In it, Wil Wheaton (who, of course, I love from Star Trek: The Next Generation) is at a convention/expo earlier this year, and during a panel he’s on, a woman in the audience asks him to explain to her newborn daughter, Violet (on video), why it’s awesome to be a nerd.

Dude left me a little weepy, I have to say. Check it out:

On his own blog, Wil said:

I’m very lucky in that every now and then, I get to say something and people will listen to me. It’s an incredible gift from the great elder gods that I treasure, and respect, so I do my best to honour it when I get to use it. This video went pseudoviral yesterday while I was traveling home, so I suppose you could say that I got to be Dad of the Internet for a little bit, which is kind of neat.

That’s how I feel when I’m putting all my debt out here and slogging through yet another month of bills and minimum payments, and you guys leave me amazing comments about how, somehow, that’s helpful. I love that I get to say something that reaches people.

In fact, THAT, itself, is the thing I love to do the most.

I love telling stories. I love using words to connect people to new ideas and to each other.** I’m not saying I’m the next Ernest Hemingway, here. I’m saying that I love when some words I put on a page, in print or digitally, can make someone laugh, or feel less alone, or try a little harder.

Lately, the “grind” has gotten me away from that. I’m still telling stories, but I’m not pursuing it with passion. I’m not, in Wil’s words, loving the thing I love unabashedly and wholeheartedly.

In fact, sometimes I’m almost doing it ashamedly. When people ask me what I do for a living, I talk about the technology consulting and the website design and the virtual assistant work I do, all of which is cool (and profitable). But I’m ever-so-slightly afraid to tell people, “You know what? I write.” I worry it’s going to conjure up, for the other person, an image of drawers of unpublished novels and poetry or something.

But you know what? I don’t care. I write. I LOVE TO WRITE. Nothing makes me happier than words on pages, and I’m proud to embrace that.

So today, I have one of my favorite Star Trek heroes to thank for reminding me what matters. For reminding me to love what I love, and to be careful HOW I love it.

Are you willing to go “all in” on the things  you love?

What drives you? What makes you happier than anything? Are you willing to get nerdy about it? Are you willing to SHOW how passionate you are?

Let’s talk nerdy in the comments!

But first, some footnotes…

* If you’ve been wondering all this time about the picture with today’s post, “obrigado” means “thank you” in Portuguese, the native language of one of my best writer friends. When I saw that image, I knew it was the one! Yep. WORD NERD JOAN. :)

** Oh, and by the way, that’s totally an adaptation from one of my own favorite writers, Jeff Jarvis. Check out the second paragraph here…

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Ann Clifford August 2, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Loved it, Joan, made me think. I live with two major nerds and hearing what Will said made me realize I need to be more supportive of their loves/interests. I expect them to respect and love what I love, but I need to remember to do the same for them and everyone, thanks again, Joan.

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Joan Otto August 2, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Mary Ann, that’s a very good reminder. I’ve been working on that in particular with my daughter in the past year (trying to support HER loves and not just interest her in mine!) and it’s been amazing, but a hard path for me. Good for you for realizing that and working at it!

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Rebecca August 2, 2013 at 2:37 PM

What I am passionate about is yes paying off debt to live as debt free as possible. I am also very passionate about writing, expressing my opinion sometimes folks dont like it, learning new things, and lastly but not least spending time with my daughter and helping her grow up into the amazing person I know that she is .

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Joan Otto August 2, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Rebecca, that’s awesome!! I love doing all those things too. Especially the last one! :)

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Emmanuelle August 2, 2013 at 3:57 PM

I am crazyyy about psychology and documentaries! After 5 years in a job I don’t like, after finally clearing all my big debts, I’ll start doing what I love and try to make a living out of it!
It is scary but feels incredibly right!
Thanks for all your posts it is so motivating and interesting and it resonates up to here, in Quebec! :)

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Joan Otto August 2, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Thanks, Emmanuelle! You rock. Documentaries and psychology, huh? Sounds pretty cool to me!! (My husband is a HUGE documentary fan, so I’m starting to get more into them through his love.)

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Becca August 2, 2013 at 5:41 PM

I budget. Its what I love to do. I know that sounds odd but I can write and then rewrite my budget a million ways and never get bored… I have been doing this since I was 14 and started to earn my first income. I budget things I want… How many babysitting jobs do I need to pay for that? As my bills have become a lot more complicated I go over and over them rearranging areas every month to suit my family’s needs. With your last article I am currently trying to find ways to incorporate this into extra money. Ill keep MVD updated :)

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Joan Otto August 2, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Go Becca! I am all for you helping out others with the budgeting!! :)

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Brian August 2, 2013 at 8:17 PM

You don’t need to be a nerd or geek to love that video, I don’t even know who this guy is but he has passion for his world, so much so his words touch your soul. Thanks for sharing this it couldn’t have been shared at a better time for me.

As with the rest of your post, sometimes we just have to stop and lift our heads above the smoke of day to day living and appreciate who we are & what we have. I’m passionate about my family and a small project I have going around personal finance, I hope it can help people just like you guys do.

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Brian, you are so right! I am so glad I was able to share this.

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Martha August 2, 2013 at 8:42 PM

What do I love to do? I was about to say that I love alot of things, but I stopped…. because I realize that it just is not true. I like lots of things, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE (ie get passionate about) only a couple of things.

Besides loving Dogs, and always wanting them around, the thing that I am doing right now and totally loving is Flipping things. I Flip Houses. When I say that to people, their reaction is always “That is so cool!” and I agree. It is. But it isn’t easy and it really isn’t for everybody.

There is nothing that makes me happier, though… than to look at a home and imagine the possibilities. And then to make a plan, and to make that house look pretty. And then seeing how it all comes together…. turning that vision into a reality and making money doing that. Wow. I hope I can keep on doing this forever, because I totally LOVE what I am doing now.

For the past few years I had been working at a job that I had taken just to have a salary coming in, and have health care….. but I havebeen on a medical leave of absence. Now that my “approved” leave is ending, some well-intentioned “Loved Ones” have tried to convince me that I should hold onto that job security. Probably good advice, certainly given by people who have my best interests in mind… but I keep thinking of a line in that Alanis Morrisette song, “Isn’t it Ironic?” about that “Good advice that you just can’t take…..”

As crazy as it seems…. once you have the opportunity to do something that makes you really Happy – how can you go back to doing just a JOB????

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Martha, I know exactly what you mean. I sometimes wonder how I did some of the work I used to do, and I look back and think, “I’m not sure I could ever go back!”

Keep doing what you love!

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Ivan August 3, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Thanks for sharing, Joan!

Howard Thurman once said: “Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive…then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

There’s just something so special and uplifting about following your own nerdy passions. After all, it is what makes you come alive, isn’t it? And who knows? Maybe you’ll find others who love what you love just as much as you do while you’re at it.

Wouldn’t THAT be awesome? :)

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:12 PM

That is DEFINITELY the most awesome part, Ivan!

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Cay August 3, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Joan,
Sometimes, it just a little thing that can remind us abut something. Wil reminded you of your passion for life!! It’s always been there. It was just pushed to the side for a moment.
Glad you are “talking” about doing what you love with others! As we enjoy reading about your “budget passions” in your writings.
Have a blessed week, my friend!

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

:) Cay, I’m late replying, but thank you! I do love to write – and I love being able to do it here with you guys!

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Kevin Watts @ Graduatingfromdebt August 5, 2013 at 10:17 PM

I am willing to go all in do what I love that is travel. Hopefully, one day I start enough money online that my business becomes a mobile and I live the life of a vagabond. I want the freedom to do what I want without worrying about my bills or any of the non essentials. This is why I work the 2-3 hours extra a day to be able to do this one day.

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Kevin, that’s the thing – it is worth the hard work when you know what it’s for, right?! :)

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Hunting.Targ August 6, 2013 at 12:10 AM

That was a good article. I’ve been there myself, going through the motions, feeling empty of passion or drive. And that video is definitely a favorite. Wil Wheaton was an early role model for me, first through his character on ST:TNG and later as a real person. It is really encouraging to see underneath elements of the fictional character I came to admire as a boy.
You might be interested to know that one of the commenters on YouTube mentioned that he has written a book, titled “Just A Geek.” It’s going on my reading list.
THX, and take care.

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Hunting.Targ August 8, 2013 at 3:33 AM

p.s. ; I amend myself; ‘he has written a book’ -> Wil has written a book. Just to be clear.

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Oh, that’s on my wishlist now as well! I am so glad you pointed it out. Thanks! :)

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Lindsey @ Sense & Sensibility August 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM

I’ve always loved geeks. I loved geeks before geeks were fashionable to love. I guess that makes me a Geek Hipster. Whatever, I love them. I also am one but that came later.

I love to write as well – it’s easy to forget about why you started doing something when you get mired down in the day to day grind of it. I don’t care who you are, even your passion is going to be a grind sometimes. Good self awareness, sometimes you have to go back to your roots!

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

That’s such a good point, Lindsey. Make it fun again – recapture that magic, right?! :)

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Victor Björklund August 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Thank you for the inspiration! I really want to go all in and just sell all my stuff and focus on travel.

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Joan Otto August 14, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Victor, go for it! It’s not always easy, but it is so worth it :)

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Patrick August 15, 2013 at 5:43 AM

Wow, thanks for this Joan, I really needed that video today, it’s so easy to get sidetracked and forget to do the stuff we’re meant to be doing. And for the record, I love your writing and your monthly updates, and I can’t wait to read the blog where you write “we are debt free”.

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Sara September 3, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Obrigado is thank you in masculine form. There is also obrigada, which girls should say:)
BTW Portuguese is a beautiful language.Such melancholic. Just like Fado, their national music.

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