I have a lot of hobbies. I’m an introvert and a homebody, and I love to keep my mind busy. I have a lot of hobbies, but I’m actually pretty terrible at them.
I love baking, but I hate measuring things carefully, so my creations are a gamble. I’ve been knitting a scarf for almost a year, and it’s filled with holes. I recently started making candles, but they’re often misshapen.
But the joy of a hobby doesn’t come from how good you are at it. The pleasure of a hobby lies in the process, not the result. It’s about the time and effort you put into this craft. Attaching success to a hobby removes the focus on relaxation or enjoyment and centres it on the product. It defeats the entire purpose of the hobby.
Here’s why it’s actually a good thing that you’re not great at your hobbies.
We live in the age of the side hustle. It feels like just about everyone you knew in high school is suddenly rolling out their new side hustle, although hopefully without that dreaded “hey girlie!” message over Facebook.
People are selling courses, candles, stickers and coaching services. I don’t intend to disparage their efforts, as creating a side hustle is difficult work! But I simply don’t think everything has to be a side hustle. I think it’s okay for things not to be profitable, and that’s something we seem to have forgotten along the way. We become so focused on productivity and worth that we can’t understand putting time and money into a hobby unless we plan to reap the rewards.
Not everything we do in a day has to be productive. It’s okay to take a walk and not listen to a podcast. It’s okay to watch a TV show that isn’t award-winning or educational. It’s okay to read a fiction book about a magical world or a cute couple. Your time doesn’t always have to be building towards something. It’s okay to rest and laugh and simply exist.
When you become good at hobby, it’s easier to feel guilty about the time and money going towards it, but fight that urge. This hobby is your thing. You do enough productive things in a day, so let this hobby be all yours.
When you’re good at something, you want always to do it well. If you can run long distances, then doing a short run doesn’t feel impressive. If you can knit a beautiful beanie, then you always want to produce something worry of a gift or Etsy shop.
But when you’re not good at something, you don’t fall into the trap of thinking five steps ahead to the finished product. Instead, you exist in the time spent on it. You remove all those expectations and instead enjoy the process. No one expects anything of you, including yourself, so you relax into a task.
I know that I can’t bake a gorgeous cake, so I don’t try to, instead I just enjoy myself when baking. I’m knitting a scarf simply to complete it, so I can watch TV as I do it and enjoy the relaxing movement of the knitting needles.
When you’re not very good at a hobby, you get to focus on the other benefits of hobbies and simply relax.
Entering a hobby with such high expectations would also make you wary of it. If you only bake to produce a brilliant cake, then you know it’ll require all of your focus. If you make candles to sell on Etsy, then you’ll do it for an extended period of time when you can give all of your energy. But when a hobby is about pleasure, it also gives you time to switch off.
I’m an introvert, and I love to call this time my ‘Mind off, hands on’ time. This is when I don’t have to (over)think or exert myself social; it’s time to be alone and just focus on something creative. I find it to be a form of mental rest, allowing me to do something nice whilst recouping my energy.
I don’t want to fret about how well I’m doing my hobby, as that’s not the point of it. My hobby helps me relax and feel good, and I don’t need it to be a source of pride.
There’s this toxic concept that we can only do the things we’re good at in life. That if you try something a few times and don’t immediately excel at it, you shouldn’t even bother. Don’t play an instrument if you don’t sound like a professional orchestra. Don’t take up running if you have to stop and take breaks.
But if we restrict ourselves to what we excel at, we miss out on so many potential moments in life. We trap ourselves in a box of expectations.
It can be really fun to be good at something, I won’t deny that, but that shouldn’t be why you’re doing a sport or hobby. You should do something because you enjoy it, because you find it relaxing or fun. Skill is irrelevant when it comes to how much you enjoy something.
When it comes to a hobby, it doesn’t matter how good you are at it. You can be terrible and knit scarfs that unravel like I do. What matters is whether you enjoy your hobby and how it makes you feel. It’s okay to spend time on things that don’t add to your life, as not every minute has to be accounted for. Instead, simply enjoy moments and experiences, such as sitting with your knitting needles and actually creating something out of yarn.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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