It seems to me that the hobbies we do for enjoyment — singing, dancing, playing a sport, painting, you name it — have turned into skills that require excellence. It feels like the point of doing these activities now is to get good at them rather than relish in them, the same way that birds sing or cats sunbathe.
What’s more, I’ve noticed people, including myself, claim that they “can’t” make art or that they “aren’t artistic.” They “don’t play sports” because they “aren’t athletic.”
We claim that we can’t sing or dance, not because we can’t make sounds come out of our mouths in long breaths or move our bodies in various directions, but because we are not pushing the boundaries of contemporary expression or breaking school athletic records.
On the flip side, we’re now seeing a rise in hobbies becoming side hustles. With the help of social media, people are turning the hobbies they’re skilled at into something they can profit from.
And that’s great — I am happy for them. What a dream to make money doing something you love. But as a fellow creator, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the pressure to produce instead of express.
Further, I worry that the pressure we experience to be good at our hobbies sends the wrong message to our youth. I worry that it teaches them not to stick with anything unless they’re already good at it — or even the best.
But by that logic, how will anyone get good at anything? After all, we get good at something by practicing. I know that many of us have grown up with the same message that practice makes perfect, hearing it from our parents, teachers and role models.
I’d argue that the almost inescapable presence of social media perpetuates the fictional idea that flaws and mistakes don’t exist. I’ve found that it’s rare to see someone post a cover of a song simply because it’s their favourite song, where whether they’re singing in the right key is irrelevant.
But in today’s world, it seems that there is a standard tune, and it’s the only one that matters. There is little patience for those who like to sing off-key.
Hobbies have become skills, and I can’t say that I’m a fan.
This phenomenon has created a sense of guilt in those of us who engage in hobbies with less than maximum effort. It seems that we’ve forgotten what a hobby is meant to be — an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
For myself, one of my most frequented hobbies used to be journaling. After finding out I have some knack for writing about fifteen years later, I find myself pursuing creative writing as a career path.
It’s no surprise then, that everything I write is for my classes. While I do enjoy my coursework, I can’t tell you the last time I wrote in my spare time simply for the pleasure it brings me.
With the constant pressure to produce something — let alone something good — I find it getting harder and harder to write anything in the first place. My writing is becoming my work, and its purpose as a hobby has been swallowed up and spit out as a priority on my to-do list.
With that said, I would like to revive the half-assing of hobbies.
Trace that picture in your journal. Enjoy old cars without knowing how to fix them. Watch the movies without reading the comics. Watch how-to videos for every step of the recipe. Go outside without counting your steps. Use the automatic setting on your camera. Start stretching without shooting for the splits.
For us students, remember to not be ashamed. Real life isn’t school. The all-or-nothing mentality isn’t healthy.
Shrug, grin and let it be known — it is okay to half-ass your hobbies.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email email@example.com. Kaitlyn Clark is an undergraduate student studying English and French. Kaitlyn is a sister, student and nature-enthusiast-wino trying to emerge as a writer. With strong attention to detail and a weak sense of routine, Kaitlyn is mostly just trying to go with the flow.