Hobbies for the hell of it

I like playing music a lot. I love it, in fact. Playing music gives me an enormous amount of physical, mental, and spiritual satisfaction. I’m fortunate in that I get play music in some capacity every day, often starting my day with a little session, some form of lunchtime music break, and sometimes (if I’m lucky) an evening session after my daughter goes to bed.

Playing music is such an integral part of my life, and I feel a strong pressure for me to take this thing I love and turn it into something bigger. Something Official. When I talk to people, they ask me if I’m in a band (I was in high school and college but not anymore), or if I’m recording an album (it’s been on my new years resolution list for over a decade).

I feel like we live in a time where you can’t just have hobbies. Like casual hobbies that you do for the hell of it. There’s pressure to take the things you do Very Seriously and turn everything you do into an Official Endeavor or a Side Hustle. Like knitting? You need to open an Etsy shop and start taking orders! Like music? Why aren’t you booking gigs and recording an EP? Like taking photos? You better set up that photo-specific Instagram account and share shoot highlights regularly. Don’t forget the hashtags!

There’s an intrinsic desire to achieve mastery at the things we do, and at some point along your journey from novice to expert, “expert” becomes synonymous with “professional”. And “professional” brings with it all the baggage of capitalism, responsibility, pageantry, networking, and so on.

Who knows if social media’s to blame or if this pressure has always existed, but whatever the cause I feel like these pressures risk sucking the joy out of the activities we enjoy doing. I actually started out as a music major in university, and during an unpaid summer internship (nice one, Brad) at a music venue/recording studio I realized that business part of the music business very easily could ruin my passion for music.

I’m trying to be more mindful about these pressures and not succumb to them. We should celebrate our hobbies for the joy-giving activities they are, and recognize that they don’t need to become anything bigger than that. And of course that’s not to say they those hobbies can’t turn into something bigger — it’s incredible when your passions and your occupation overlap — but it should be because you want to rather than that you feel pressured to. Not every activity you do needs to become a big official thing.

I hope you’re able to explore your hobbies, especially during this pandemic. Let your hobbies be a life preserver and a true source of joy during this immensely challenging moment in time, and may you pursue them simply for the hell of it.