Hobbies. Ahh… hobbies. Believe it or not, I had forgotten the fact that hobbies were still a thing, so i had to google what a hobby was before starting this article.
Hobbies were my entire life as a kid, basically because I had no other occupation than just showing up to school and doing homework. Hobbies were the way I discovered things I liked and things I didn’t like, hobbies were activities that excited me and made me learn new skills at the same time; hobbies were the whole thing, there was nothing I was expecting out of a hobby but the fun.
And now that I think about it, it’s been a while since I had a hobby. It’s been a while since I’ve done something for the sake of fun and the sake of the activity itself. Ever since I left school, I haven’t had many activities that I’d refer to as hobbies.
Adultland & the long lost hobbies
I started taking pictures as a hobby with the idea in mind that I’d love to be a photographer and get paid for it, which led me to college, where I was paying to get homework that would guarantee me a piece of paper that’d say I’d be a professional photographer so I could get a job of the thing I wanted and get paid for it. And all of a sudden my hobby was no longer my hobby; my hobby had evolved into a career and had no longer qualities that a hobby should have: it wasn’t that much fun anymore, no wonder there was no relaxation in between, just a lot of hours to put into and huge pressure for making more work in order to make ends meet.
And that’s how I entered Adultland: in Adultland there was no track of hobbies. Nobody I’d known was making something for the sake of enjoyment but for the premise of making something out of it. When you’re an adult it seems that your time really becomes money and you can’t afford to waste it. That’s where I left hobby-land and went to Side Hustle-land (?). Okay these land things are getting awkwardly painful to write, however, you get the point.
When you’re side-hustling you’re doing something (preferably that you’re interested in or that’s related to something you already do) to get some cash out of it. Most of the time is essentially a hobby in which you foresee a prospective economic … well, a hobby you see you can make some money out of it.
No money? No time.
In my adolescence and early 20s, I must admit that I had a strong sense of fashion, so I started doing what any teenager with an internet connection and a pocket camera would have done at the time: posting pictures on a blog and talk about the clothes I had, what I liked to wear and basically show off my entire wardrobe because it was fun. The fun relied on taking pictures and style outfits, editing the photos and searching for cute fonts to match the mood of my outfit. However, I had this weird feeling that this was (and had never been indeed) a hobby.
Yes, it was fun but I was not doing it for the sake of the fun or the skills (although being a photographer and stylist, this was great practice) but because I knew there was something I wanted out of it: fame. Well, not fame itself but attention, recognition, working with brands, people claiming to see me as a fashion inspiration/icon/whatever. I knew many bloggers I followed had become fashion icons and had built entire businesses out of their blogs.
Me being a photographer & stylist, having a fashion blog was only another branch to promote myself and my services: all that I could offer your brand. The photos, the styling and the face. So it was never a hobby, it was deeply connected to my work. Without counting the fact that being a “fashion blogger” kept me awake until late night after work and uni. It was in all its splendor, a side-hustle.
The same happened to many of my other passions, I simply believed that I enjoyed doing something so much was reason enough for it to make me money. That’s how I became an illustrator too. Ever since I’m in adultland, I never had time to have a hobby. Everything I’ve done either has given me money or not, and that’s what would move my decisions (plus I may or may not be prone to overworking).
Outside of the hustle
Probably many of us who had and still have to go through quarantine used this time to think about life, work, money and I was without a doubt the exception. I began to wonder why If I was having more time than usual, I suddenly had more work to do. In these past weeks more and more ideas appeared in my head to “improve” somehow my business: set up dates for workshops, develop ideas for courses, thinking about creating twice the content I normally post on my social media and web. And I realized it was there: the side hustle mentality, the work towards an outcome. How can I live a life if the only thing that defines me is the work I do? Who am I outside of the hustle?
So before (and to be honest, really close to) burning out, all the alarms in my head said I could no longer go on. Creating is fun and I love what I do yet being so attached to my work makes me lose perspective and sense of direction, when there’s no outcome frustration comes along and the vicious circle starts again.
In order to create a life out of working, I’ve been implementing small changes in the past year: take at least 2 days off, switch off social media, reading more books… and now I’m consciously trying to leave Adultand and get freaking hobbies.
I got some embroidery equipment and started watching tutorials: had never done it before and it really tests my patience sometimes, but I enjoy it a lot. Because I’m there, just me and the needle and the floss and whatever pattern I choose; there’s no second thought, there’s no end in sight, there’s just joy (I feel that’s a cheesy word ever since Marie Kondo started to use it) and fun. I do a lot of this blackout newspaper things that Austin Kleon does, just for the sake of it; I also collage a lot and make these cute pennants to hang somewhere home. I’d love to take up ballet classes and do pottery. I’m even trying to do nothing, to incorporate it as a hobby too. I’m not looking for an outcome here, even though there might be positive side effects, but overall I’m here for the fun.
“Do what you love, love what you do” said someone, either to encourage someone to follow their passion or to make their passion what they were already doing. There’s a push to make every aspect of your life profitable that sometimes we forget that life is more than a few extra bills in our pocket. Nobody teaches us to take time off to have hobbies, because hobbies are not something profitable!
No chance to mess it up
The reason why I’ve spent the past two hours sitting here writing about hobbies and the contrast with side hustles is because I want to raise awareness of the importance of having hobbies. Leaving our desks and recreating our minds, stretch our brains, and satiate our curiosity by discovering new things to do.
There’s no right or wrong, there’s no good or bad, there’s no fear of failing, no chance to mess it up. There’s only you, like a curious child, thinking about doing something for the sake of filling your time with fun.