Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Can you make a living from your hobby?

I was just chatting to a friend on Facebook about people making a living from their hobbies, and we both agreed that it's unlikely to happen. And we also agreed that it's hard to tell a chum who asks for advice that s/he just doesn't have the talent or the wherewithal, that they should concentrate on finding a 'proper' job, and save the hobby for the weekend. 

I'm a huge, huge advocate of following a dream but I also firmly believe that we should know our limitations. We have to understand and accept that at some point, we have to toe the line, which means knuckling down and being adult enough to say, 

"OK, I don't really like my shop job - it's tedious and the customers are often rude, but you know what? At the weekends, I get to run around the woods with my friends, dressed as a mighty wizard... and my boring job enables me to fund my hobby!"

I think the trouble these days is that we're constantly told in schools, in the Media, and by the do-gooders, that every one of us is extraordinary, and that we're entitled to an extraordinary life. And therein lies the problem: yes we are extraordinary... as a species - but that doesn't mean that as individuals, we necessarily are. It doesn't mean we deserve anything, nor have a right to expect anything. Whatever we want, we have to work hard for, and this is something so many people seem not to understand. A lot of people also don't comprehend that just because their doting partner adored the lopsided sweater they took six months to knit for them, it doesn't necessarily follow that people will come flocking in droves to commission more of their 'unique' creations! (OK, amato mio's sweater wasn't lopsided but it's definitely on the large side, and it did take me about half a year to knit!)

Sure, it would be awesome to be able to make a living doing the things we love to do but from experience, I can tell you that even if you do not end up loathing that thing, it will rule your life; you will have to work very long hours for a pittance; and it will always be an uphill struggle

People are constantly telling me I should open a bistro, and then express surprise when I tell them that it would be my idea of hell on earth (well, one of them)

"Why?" they ask, "You love cooking, and your food is amazing!" 

It's because I love cooking that my food is so good - if I had to do it for a living, I fear the joy would go out of it, and it would become a chore.... worse, it would become something I felt imprisoned by because I would be reliant upon it. I do the things I love doing because they give me (and sometimes other people!) such immense pleasure - far too many times I have tried to capitalise on them, only to realise what folly it is. I don't want to go down that road again!

A hobby is something which should relax you, help you unwind, forget the cares of the everyday world.... when it becomes the source of stress and worry, what then? Do you get another hobby... and then think, 

"Oh, perhaps I could make a living out of this?"!! 

There is a reason why there are relatively few professional artists, knitters, writers, designers, musicians, athletes, etc. in the world - and they are paid lots of money because they are a rarity. They do what they do because they're driven, obsessed perhaps, and they are only where they are because they work at their craft to the exclusion of almost everything else. None of these people woke up one morning and decided that this is who they wanted to be - they have been these people since they took their first breath, and they have spent all of their lives doing the thing they were born to do. And none of them believe it to be the soft option; working in an office, 9-5, Monday to Friday, is the cushy number... making a successful business enterprise from a hobby is not

These people are remarkable at what they do - most of us are not. Fact. The sooner people accept it, and understand that they may well not have a life less ordinary but that they can build upon they life they do have, the happier I believe people will be. And probably more fulfilled too.

Be thankful for the life you have - if you are reading this, you are already far more privileged than most of the world's population. You are remarkable in your own way - rejoice in it but don't try to make more of it than it is. And don't expect the rest of the world to view you as anything more than an ordinary human being... just as we all are. 

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