Lately, hobbies have become a metric of personal success. But their core purpose is to help us pause and praise.
If there were ever an “age of hobbies,” this might be it. Changes in technology have made it easy for anyone seeking recreation. You want to know how to knit? There’s a YouTube video for that. You want to branch into acting? For a small fee, you can sit under the great Samuel L. Jackson in a MasterClass. Interested in making soap? There are several Facebook groups ready to teach you about the art of suds.
Although these leisures tease us with rest, we often turn them into burdens. Hobbies have become nothing more than another sphere to master. We run to reach our weight goal, paint and make some side money, or pick up backpacking and start our own YouTube channel in the process. And we love the measurable results: the Fitbit on our arm, the “likes” on our article, or the number of items crossed off our bucket list. They give us the metrics we crave to reap the reward we’re working toward. Progress is our game—even with pleasure—and we ingrain ourselves in the cycle that Nathan Stucky calls “work, reward, repeat.”
However, a recent Vox article suggests that people are starting to rethink this approach to hobbies. Hope Reese writes that “our hustle culture leaves us with no moment unaccounted for, because we feel that even our ‘free’ moments must involve the pursuit of excellence, money, self-improvement, and ‘growth.’” Her solution: “ignore insidious competition culture.”
Writing for the fashion blog Man Repeller, Molly Conway also cautions against the urge to turn hobbies into hustles. “Every time we feel beholden to capitalize on the rare places where our skills and our joy intersect,” she writes, “we …