Starting up a new interest or activity for fun, or even just going back to an old hobby, is always exciting. Whether it’s picking up an instrument, dancing, or just figuring out that you’d like to edit Wikipedia pages in your free time, having a hobby can be fun and relaxing. But in recent years, there’s been a rather prevalent idea, possibly because of social media, that having a hobby means you have to also be an expert at it.
Becoming extremely skilled at a hobby is great, especially if it comes to you or happens naturally! That isn’t always the case when money’s involved, and a growing number of people are turning their hobbies into jobs. In fact, a 2019 Vistaprint survey uncovered that more than a quarter of adults had turned their hobbies into side businesses.
So if you’ve turned a hobby into a hustle or a gig, that’s great! But, on the flip side, hobbies aren’t necessarily something you have to push yourself to be good at either. Not putting pressure on yourself to improve at something and simply doing it because it’s fun can really make a difference in what you take away from the things you enjoy.
We don’t have to be the very best.
As a 20-something, I am extremely familiar with the theme song to the original Pokémon show. “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was” is an iconic opening line, sure, but it doesn’t have to apply to everything. For me, watercolor painting is one of those things.
I am by no means good at painting. Outside of a few high school art classes, I am a humble hobbyist painter who does it for fun. I’ve painted everything from sunsets to abstract shapes that started out as something completely different. So while I might not be painting with the intention of someday becoming an amazing painter, the benefits I get from it are still very tangible and real.
Painting tends to help me unwind, especially if my brain has been focused on a lot in any given week. I also know that my creative muscles get a good stretch as well. I’m a writer, so painting is a great way to think creatively in a different way than how I normally do. None of these associated benefits of painting involve me getting really good at it either!
How about those benefits?
My leisurely hobby of painting has brought me some wonderfully positive benefits, and I believe that can apply to anyone and everyone, no matter what your hobbies might be. Hobbies tend to bring a number of benefits, and they can definitely range depending on who you are! In general, having a hobby can help you relax, get you interested in something new, give you a creative outlet, and even potentially introduce you to new friends.
There’s even been studies conducted to reveal that those who participate in hobbies and leisurely activities maintain better psychological and physical functioning, such as better life satisfaction and social support. Given these benefits, backed by some rather cool scientific support, take a second to think about the last time you really had the chance to engage your hobby simply for the reason of enjoying it.
Say no to stress.
While it can be difficult to not feel inherent pressure about getting better at something, try your best to push away any pressure tied to your hobby. There’s enough external stress you have to deal with (especially these days), so not pressuring yourself to practice your hobby for the sole purpose of getting better at it definitely isn’t something you need to add to the mix.
There’s a lot of value to be found in your hobbies, purely for the fact that they're something you enjoy doing — even if you aren’t aiming to be the next greatest painter, dancer, or SNES speed runner. Take some of the pressure off yourself and fully dig into your new interest and welcome the relaxation that’ll eventually find its way to you.
With that, I wish you luck with anything you do, whether you’re good at it or not!
— Paige Lyman