You paint on the weekends. You doodle at work. You write random bits of dialogue while riding the bus. You share your daydreams over a beer with your friends. We all have little things we do in our spare time that help us unwind and relax, or perhaps it’s that kind of hobby that energizes you. After an hour or two, you go back to the demands of the “real world.”
Here’s my question: is your hobby waiting to get on stage?
It’s hard to make the transition from hobbyist to professional. It’s scary and intimidating, and it places demands on a pastime that usually helps you escape pressure. But there’s no denying that some of us relish that pressure and want our crafts and talents to expand beyond our personal enjoyment. We want to share it, and we want to nourish it, and watch it grow. How do you know when it’s time to take your hobby-relationship to the next level?
- You can’t stop thinking about it.
Much like having a crush on a person, your hobby stays on your brain even when you’re doing something else. It’s an intrinsic part of your thoughts, something that never lets go. Let’s be real: if it crosses the line between “hobby” to “obsession”, then it’s begging for more than the occasional get-together.
- You want to get better.
After a certain point, you actually want to hone your craft. Doing it “just because” isn’t good enough anymore, and you actually want it to improve. I’m not saying hobbyists don’t care, but the same pressure to meet a certain standard isn’t there. If you’re striving for excellence, then surely there’s more to it than just “fun.”
- You want to share it with others.
I still have certain hobbies I don’t generally share, such as music composition. But drawing and writing are two things I can’t contain, not without feeling like I’m suffocating a part of myself. Sharing my work with others was certainly scary at first, but ultimately, an audience gives an ear to an artist’s voice. Without that, we’re only whispering to ourselves.
- You want others to take it seriously.
What I really mean by this is “You want others to respect you as a craftsman.” This means not giving your time and effort away for free, or working for less than you’re worth. With a hobby, it’s no big deal to donate your talent, but if you’re starting to take your hobby more seriously, then you’ll want others to do the same. (This means getting paid, and getting paid well.)
- You’re willing to work a day job to pay for it.
Surprise! You thought the last step would be about quitting your day job and doing your hobby full-time, didn’t you? WELL NOPE. The real test is whether or not you’re willing to support your hobby with a job you don’t necessarily enjoy. Sure, some jobs are more soul-sucking than others. But if you think your favorite hobby won’t have dream-crushing lows, then you aren’t facing reality. The reality is this: your hobby needs you alive and well, and if a day job makes that possible, then you’ve got to be willing to make that sacrifice.
Don’t get me wrong: I think hobbies are super important! I’m not saying you need to capitalize on everything you love. But if there’s something that’s tugging at your heart, begging for more attention, maybe it’s time to give that something a chance to shine. Maybe you’ll find that novel, that painting, that blog, whatever. Give your hobby a chance to grow and let yourself be surprised.