I'm studying to be a GIS specialist right now and I've learned VERY quickly how much work it is to create a simple map. 95% of my final project for my Intro GIS class was finding the data I needed and creating shapefiles for EVERY SINGLE THING! The thing is though, I loved it, and the final map turned out amazing in my opinion. I was so proud of the hard work, late nights, and many cups of coffee I had to put up with to get it all together.
I had a friend over the summer give me a drawing of a map of one of his DnD games that he wanted me to create for him. I don't know how many hours I put into that map, but I had to learn a lot of new things on ArcMap that I hadn't used before just to create it. But again, that was probably the greatest experience ever for me. And he loved the end result.
You're right, a lot of my friends didn't understand how much work it is to create a simple map. But all the hard work, sweat, and lack of sleep pays off every time when you can look at your finished project and be stupid happy about it. It may look simple, but its work, and its a career path that we take because we love what we do. I can't wait to finally say that this is my career. Right now, I can only say this is my passion and my major in college