Not every hobby needs to be a side hustle

Ashley Chen

Since the start of the pandemic, many have had more flexibility built into their schedules to pursue new or existing interests.

Indoor activities like cooking, crocheting, and coding became popular. On Instagram, there’s been an influx of new secondary accounts describing themselves as home bakeries or custom design shops. Hobbies have exploded—but that doesn’t mean they need to be turned into side hustles.

The hustle culture that exists in today’s economy plants a mindset in people that they need to be productive 24/7. If an activity isn’t being used to progress toward some material achievement, then it’s considered a waste of time. In this context, hobbies tread a fine line: beyond pure play but not quite fitting the definition of employment either. Being able to monetize a developed skill creates the perception of contributing to one’s self-worth. 

This productivity mindset is toxic because it ties a person’s entire identity to their work.

Although part-time businesses are a great way to earn extra income, they require a tremendous time and energy commitment. People need to recognize that side hustles aren’t simply an extension of personal interests with paid benefits—they’re work. Accepting requests from clients means you don’t have the full autonomy to pursue any direction of your craft you want. You will feel pressured to prioritize profit over all else for the sake of satisfying a client.

For instance, some artists fall into the trap of having the same style in all their artwork, unchanged over a long time. This is fine if they’re satisfied with their current technique. But I think more often than not, creators are scared of losing sales if there’s a drastic change in their offering. Some creators might prefer to stick with what works, sacrificing the freedom to experiment in the process. Yet exploring and developing your craft is a large part of what makes hobbies immensely fulfilling.

Hobbies allow you to get away from the stressful things in life; turning them into another responsibility will have the opposite effect.

This is just as prevalent among students. In efforts to appear well-rounded and “interesting” as a candidate, many turn their pastimes into competitive activities for the sake of university or job applications. For overachievers, this means striving for excellence with no room to fail.

By removing what’s used to facilitate a work-life balance, anyone would be more prone to experiencing burnout, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

Not every hobby needs to be a side hustle. It’s perfectly okay to simply enjoy an activity and leave it at that.

Ashley is a fourth year Commerce student and The Journal’s Editorials Illustrator.

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