When I was about 10 years old, I got my first paying job like a babysitter. After caring for my siblings, watching other kids was a piece of cake. A few years later, I started spending my summers detasseling corn for that seed company near my parents’ farm. Wet with dew each morning, the corn rows felt like a sauna by lunchtime — which is to say the experience was pretty miserable.

In my late teens and early 20s, I worked like a greeter, table busser, and server within the restaurant industry. Serving customers, I then realized, requires a special skill set — one that includes quick thinking and kindness and is largely under appreciated.

Each of these experiences prepared me for that working world I would eventually step into: Childcare required creativity and patience; detasseling demonstrated that even work that isn’t fun still must get done; and customer service educated me in about timeliness, the importance of treating individuals with respect regardless of the circumstances, and just how going above and beyond can make someone’s day.

I just required to decide what it was I personally wanted to do when I was raised.

Early on, I thought I was likely to be a nurse, because I enjoyed looking after people. But that began to change sometime in high school, when I developed an interest in writing. I’d been an avid book and magazine reader, and as I learned more about the possibilities in the journalism and communications fields, I got excited. The idea of sharing ideas with the written word lit me up.

I declared my journalism major during my first semester in college and soon pinpointed magazine journalism as my specialty. As I researched and wrote various types of articles for my courses, I fell deeply in love with storytelling that also informs.

As graduation approached, I honed my focus: Because living a proper life was always a passion, I wanted to work for a health and fitness magazine, an ambition I told to everyone I knew — family, friends, professors, acquaintances. As luck might say, an adjunct faculty member teaching my magazine-publishing course happened to be a freelancer for this magazine. The rest is history.

Nearly 14 years later, Personally i think fortunate that creating this magazine is exactly what I still get to do. Yet while my path to meaningful work was pretty linear, I understand that’s not the case for many (as charity: water founder Scott Harrison’s story illustrates). Often, it requires years and multiple changes for individuals to find their thing and their place.

Through it all — whether we’re happily chugging along or still figuring it out — it’s important that we find ways to take care of ourselves at work (for more on that, see “7 Self-Care Strategies at Work” and in our free time (for some inspiration on nurturing hobbies, take a look at “4 Ways to Find a Hobby”).

And while you will find aspects to every job we would rather not do (and some jobs we'd rather not do at all, like my early detasseling gig), we carry on, ideally looking for the bright spots that draw us back every single day. For me, the negatives, which are relatively few, are balanced by the rewards of sharing information that’s targeted at making healthy living more accessible for more people.

And that satisfies the part of me that has always enjoyed looking after others. Though it’s different from what I had in mind like a little girl, it’s more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined.