We live in a society where we tend to believe we need to be the best or else we’re worthless. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not, at least when it comes to the work portion of our lives, but what about hobbies? Yes, it’s good to feel good at what we do in our free time, but do we need to be the best to enjoy ourselves? The second conundrum plaguing hobbies is that everyone thinks they need to monetize their hobby or get approval from others in some other form. I can say I do fall victim to both of these, but the older I get, the more I want to change that.
Firstly, the Miriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation”. There are keywords we should take away from that, particularly ‘relaxation’. I don’t know about you, but when I start feeling like a perfectionist or needing outside approval, that stresses me out, and therefore defeats the purpose of a hobby.
Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to make your hobby, your passion, something more. I, for one, spend a lot of my time writing fiction novels, and will spend even more time trying to sell them as someone who has never interacted with the publishing industry besides as a consumer. I am a scientist by training. With that said, I love my hobby so much I want to share it with the world. I also love my hobby so much that it really stings when I get a rejection letter. While I try to be picked up by an agent, I have friends who want to read what I have written, but I get so caught up in being a perfectionist on grammar that I say, “Wait one more edit.” when what matters to them is the story. Commas are literally stopping me from doing the one thing I set out to do, share my stories, and I’m not even putting them in the wrong spot; I get so worked up thinking about aesthetically unpleasing yet perfectly acceptable grammar. Writing and editing are supposed to be fun (and they are for the most part); the whole process, while not always fun, should not be something that makes me anxious either, as that once again defeats the purpose, but I can get caught up in the notion that I don’t want to be clumped into the people who are bad at writing, who think it’s ‘easy’ to be a novelist, who don’t see it’s a science and an art. Basically, I don’t want to embarrass myself.
While I would love to write more about the existential crisis of trying to sell your work to an already bloated industry (anyone with a computer can try to sell something), I’ll save that for another blog.
I want to talk about the concept of hobbies that we allow ourselves to not be that great at. Those are fun and low stakes, and I have a lot of them. Due to the nature of this title and the image I chose, I feel like we can have an easy guess as to the topic I am focusing on: Rainbow Scratch art. For the uninitiated, it’s a piece of paper that has a black coating on it that when you scratch away, a surprising array of colors become uncovered.
I received my first pack as a present. For a while, I had no clue what I wanted to do with it because unlike other arts, you can’t erase, cover up, or undo a mark on them. As we may have been able to tell by previous paragraphs, that was not great for the perfectionist in me. I didn’t want to doodle and throw them away. So, I decided to use it to combine a weird mixture of things I like: music and fonts.
By now, we can see I named my blogs after albums; I also listened to 90,000 minutes of music on Spotify last year (a lot), and I always found inspiration for everything I do in music, so that was a no brainer. I also am a typophile, so I figured I might as well combine the two, and voila, a very weird hobby that no one is interested in emerged. I have basic rules: I can only use a song once, I can only use a font once, and I cannot redo any scratch art, so good or bad, it’s joining the wall. I even made an Instagram for it, followed by only two people, both family members (none of my friends wanted to have rainbow scratch lyrics in different fonts on their feeds, surprisingly).
In all my ramblings and examples, I’m trying to explain why it is good to have ‘bad’ hobbies, just like it’s good to have ‘perfectionist’ hobbies. Both have pluses and minuses, but most people tend to think if they’re ‘bad’ at a hobby they shouldn’t do it, and I strongly disagree. If you find joy in it, do it. Everyone should have a hobby that is just for fun, that we don’t need to be good at, that is the quintessential definition of a hobby. I’m not great at crafts, but who cares? No one, and that’s amazingly freeing. Hobbies are supposed to be fun, so mess up that crochet stitch, mix the worst colors together because you know nothing about color theory, do things for the fun of it and the fun of it alone. For hobbies, if you had fun, you did it right.