Hobby or Hustle: A Response to Molly Conway

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Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I want to introduce my point with a bit of a story. Earlier this month, I opened my new tarot deck (Amazon) and did a spread to allow the deck to introduce itself (I’m aware of how woo-woo that sounds when I write it out, but humor me please). The first card I drew with the deck was the reversed Ace of Pentacles, which I interpreted as “be careful about new business opportunities”. I had done some Oracle card readings before, and I admittedly wanted to start doing Tarot and psychic readings as a “side hustle” particularly with this deck, so I took this card as a warning that it possibly wouldn’t go as well as I hope (or at all). I also had to think about why I thought it would be necessary for me to make money from Tarot readings—why not just do it because I enjoy it?

Fast forward to yesterday, when I read an article by Molly Conway called “The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles”. Conway explains her opinions on how our generation is pressured to be busy all the time and how we’re encouraged to monetize our hobbies as part of our “hustle culture”. I caught myself saying “yassss” whenever I agreed with something Conway says, and I thought back to when I pulled the reversed Ace of Pentacles, and how we don’t have to turn all of our hobbies into a side job.

In particular, the story that Conway tells about a fellow wedding guest being repeatedly asked if she has an Etsy shop for her handmade clothes resonated with me quite a bit. As an aspiring musician as well as a writer, I’ve often been told things along the lines of, “You’re so good at singing—you should perform at open mics!” or “Your songwriting is so good! You should release an album!” When I hear people say that, I imagine a lot of them mean that as a form of encouragement—more like “if you wanted to become a famous musician, I’d support it” rather than “if you don’t become a famous musician, it’d be such a waste of talent that could make you really, really successful”. Regardless, our cultural mentality of “rise and grind” and “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” allows for a mindset of “if I’m not making money from this, then it’s not worth doing it”. Don’t even get me started on how many people have asked me, “Have you ever thought of selling your knitting on Etsy?”

I also want to elaborate on a similar experience. I’ve noticed a pattern that if ones likes a hobby or activity, one is expected to be really good at it, and I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety from that in my hobbies, even when I don’t have any intentions of making them into a career. For example, I love and appreciate historical costuming and handmade textile goods. I love to sit with my computer and a cup of Russian Caravan tea (Amazon), and binge watch Bernadette Banner’s YouTube videos. However, in case you haven’t seen my Instagram and Twitter when I have an inevitable meltdown in front of my sewing machine, I myself am not very good at sewing, and the pressure to be better at it gets to me in the moment (and that’s not even taking comparing oneself to others into consideration). Similarly, I love drawing and appreciate great art, but I have to choose to be okay with my stick-figure drawing because I don’t need my hobbies to add to my anxiety and my feelings of “not being good enough”. (Before anyone says “just practice and you’ll get better”, that’s not the point here. While it’s true there’s no way around practicing if you want to get better at anything, I also feel appreciating your progress and not putting yourself down for your present skill level needs to be emphasized just as much.) Just like it’s valid to be merely a casual fan of something like Star Wars or The Elder Scrolls, I also feel like doing what you love, even if you’re not that good at it, is also valid.

People talk a lot about self-care on Pinterest and Facebook, and I feel like we need hobbies that let us just do, with no expectation of success in some way, to let us decompress as a form of self-care. Hustling all the time can lead to burnout, and that makes self-care even harder. Have you experienced this mentality before? Let’s keep talking about it, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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