Should You Turn Your Hobby into Your Career?
Maybe you can, but I can’t
I’m currently in this limbo period between having finished grad school in May and starting (or in a way taking the next step towards) a career, and it’s bringing up a lot of the same feelings I felt three years ago, when I had just finished undergrad — a ton of anxiety, mostly.
Like three years ago, I completed a degree in a liberal arts field — English, unsurprisingly — and now I see two paths: the conventional and the unconventional (aka, me ripping off Robert Frost and just using different terminology).
The conventional route, as I see it, is teaching English. It’s what everyone assumes I’m going to do.
The unconventional route is, well, every other option imaginable. Which is the route I’m drawn towards at the moment, because I’m tired of the classroom, and I want to do something fun and interesting.
But the unconventional career path can be overwhelming. I’ve written about it numerous times before: what do you do when you can do anything (or at least try to do anything)?
Because I have a background in English, my skillset and knowledge bank is fairly broad. No matter what I choose to do, I feel that I’ll be either directly or indirectly calling upon what I’ve learned over several years of higher education.
To that end, the world is my playground and I’m seeking enjoyment. Whether I use my college degrees a lot or a little is quite frankly a moot point to me. I’m proud of everything I accomplished in school, but I know I can’t be overly fixated on using my experiences exactly as intended.
And so I return to this common life advice: turn what you love into a career.
What is it we tend to love? Our Hobbies.
Growing up I loved sports. Between baseball and basketball, I played sports year-round. I filled in any off-season time by messing around with other sports too: golf, bowling, and I bet many of you played in backyard football games in your neighborhoods growing up like I did.
I also loved watching sports on TV. I’d recycle through the same episode of SportsCenter three times in a row; I’d skip school during March Madness to watch the games; and, I started playing fantasy football when I was just 12.
Naturally then, my dream was to work in sports in some capacity. I wanted to be some sort of sports analyst, but quickly realized I was a bit too introverted for daily television coverage. Becoming a sports writer made more sense.
Though as I got into college, and even as I continue to age now, I realized that watching and following sports was just a hobby. During my freshman year of college I attended a sports career conference, and it was over that weekend where I saw how competitive the industry was — I also saw how seriously everyone took it. Which shouldn’t have been as much of a shock as it was, because sports is first and foremost an entertainment business.
But like most sports fans, I just wanted to kick back on the couch and watch my favorite teams play — drink a beer, maybe, pop open a bag of chips...you know the drill. I wouldn’t enjoy watching sports in the same way if it was a career, if it was something my life depended on.
I look at my current hobbies the same way.
I enjoy fairly common hobbies: music and playing guitar; playing poker and other card games; reading books; watching reality television. None of which I want to turn into a career — none of which I want to dedicate 40+ hours a week towards monetizing off of.
Otherwise my hobbies aren’t hobbies anymore — they’re work…they’re my entire livelihood.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to make some money from your hobby. Heck, that’s ideally what I want to happen every time I sit down for a poker game.
But to my mind a hobby should be something that takes you away from what your every day work involves. A reprieve.
Then How Do You Find A Career You Love?
Some people will no doubt find a way to turn their hobby, their passion projects, into a full-time gig.
In fact, we’re seeing this become more common in today’s age — gamers who stream on Twitch, vloggers who put out content on Youtube, and even authors who publish every single day here on Medium.
Perhaps I’m just different, where the second a hobby becomes something too serious I lose interest…when sitting on the couch watching a baseball game turns into work, suddenly I hate it.
But there are things I care deeply about that I don’t consider hobbies — namely, the natural environment.
Being a steward for the land is not a hobby…but it’s something that just feels right. It’s a calling.
Wendell Berry uses the term vocation when he speaks of how we spend our days and weeks and eventually years.
And I think that’s the key: a vocation.
I suppose I feel like I need a calling to do *something* that impacts the world in a positive way.
I need a hobby when I have time to relax and take a break from working.
What do you think? Should your work and your hobbies be kept separate? Or is there reason for your hobby to become your work?