The Hobby to Hatred Pipeline

An assortment of hobby items including a camera, needlework, and knitting.

My mother was always a big proponent of the phrase “do what you love, and the money will follow.” She said it to me all the time, perhaps in a way of trying to rectify her own career unhappiness. She said it even as the economy crashed out from under me as I graduated from college in 2008, and it became crystal clear that “the money will follow” was not a guarantee.

It seems that I’m not the only Millenial who was spoon-fed this advice. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, only 29% of Millenials report being engaged in their jobs. Yet we are also the generation of the grind and the side-hustle. Being busy all of the time has become a status symbol, and as a result 53% of us were burnt out even before the pandemic hit.

The temptation, then, is to take something we love and make it our job, get that side hustle going so that it one day might support us AND make us happy at the same time. The very first question out of anyone’s mouth when I mention I make jewelry is “Do you have an Etsy store?” And yes, I have contemplated opening an Etsy store for my jewelry. And my handmade rag dolls. And anything else my ADHD locks onto long enough for it to become a hobby.

In fact, I have yet to have a hobby that I haven’t considered monetizing.

And that’s a problem.

I haven’t made any new jewelry in a year. I haven’t made any dolls in more than two years. Why, when I loved these things so much that I considered making them my career? Because I burnt out just thinking about making them my career, and now I don’t want to do them as a hobby either.

Therein lies the pitfall of monetizing your hobbies. No longer is “Do what you love, and the money will follow” a sustainable proposition; instead, according to author Adam J. Kurtz, it’s “Do what you love and you’ll work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.” We replace leisure time with more work, and come to hate the things we once loved. Burnout ensues.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic and its accompanying economic anxiety, it seems less likely for our generation to be able to avoid the grind. 50% of us have a side-hustle and 53% of those that do need that money to survive. We are a generation scarred by the Great Recession, and much like our grandparents who survived the Depression, we may never recover from it. It may be too late to separate our hobbies from the side-hustle.

I am no longer a fan of “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” I cringe whenever I see someone say they’ve just opened an Etsy shop based on their hobby. It’s taken a ton of personal work this year as I recovered from writing burnout to compartmentalize writing as something I do as a job; it’s still fun, of course, but it is no longer a leisure activity for me.

I’m not saying “never turn your hobby into a job,” but I strongly urge you to protect what boundaries you can in a world that no longer values them. Not everything has to be productive or make you money. We can have a little fun, as a treat. 


Noise Du Jour

Continuing in the footsteps of the late, great website Ectoplasmosis, each week I’ll share a song/music video that has grabbed my attention and really stuck with me. Sometimes they’ll be hits, other times they’ll be deep cuts, and some might also be alumni of Ectomo’s own Noise Du Jour. No matter what, I hope you’ll listen and watch, and maybe find something new to enjoy.

This week, I bring you Blood Cultures’ haunting “Set It On Fire,”with a video that dances a real fine line between weird and truly creepy. There’s an air of menace as we watch a masked, backwoods father-and-son duo play games and live their lives, capped off with threats of violence that are alluded to but never explicitly shown. Meanwhile, the  anonymous lead singer’s ethereal voice sings of realizing that their lover has destroyed everything they were, and that they guiltily “let it all happen” to them. I love the vintage psychedelic vibe of the song, creating a feeling of nostalgia that both comforts me and puts me on-edge. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.


Cool Links

Here are this week’s interesting reads and other cool things from the internet!

One response to “The Hobby to Hatred Pipeline”

  1. […] desire to write went away almost completely. As I discussed in my post “The Hobby to Hatred Pipeline“, I had burned out on another hobby in an attempt to make it a side-hustle. My newsletter, […]

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