Will the pressure to love work end our hobbies? – 11/26/2019

Creating a brand has never been easier. With internet access and a mobile phone, you can open an Instagram page and start selling anything. It could be the brigadeiro that does well, the blouses you learned to customize with your grandmother or even your personality — monetized, for example, by bloggers and influencers. It doesn’t mean it’s going to work, but it’s undeniable that disclosure doesn’t require much.

With all this ease, a new pressure arises: why not turn your hobbies into money?

If you take good pictures, you could be profiting from rehearsals. If you know how to sew, why not create a clothing line to sell online? If you’re a series marathoner, you should already have a critique blog to monetize your knowledge. Do you understand all about podcasts? Why haven’t you created yours yet?

In English, this pressure already has a name: hustle culture. It’s the idea that if you’re not being productive, you’re wasting time and money. And, in addition to being always busy, it is of course essential to post on Instagram: there are already almost 22 million photos with the hashtag #hustle on the social network.

On the one hand, young people who love their work because they see a purpose in them — a keyword for those entering the market now, guarantees Caioá Lemos, a psychologist, with a PhD in Human Development Psychology from the Psychology Institute at USP. On the other hand, people who already have a steady job, do not feel fulfilled and are under pressure to do something they enjoy — which is not necessarily healthy or will guarantee success, recalls Lemos.

“We are multi-potential beings. We are not born to do just one thing. We have different interests, which can lead to a profession or a hobby, a parallel activity”, says the psychologist, specialist in Vocational and Professional Guidance by the Service of Professional Guidance also from USP.

Of course it’s great to enjoy what you do and work hard. The problem is the romanticization of excess. Burnout, a syndrome characterized by mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress at work, became a stamp on the work of millennials — as shown in this text, which went viral in early 2019 — and came to be considered in 2019 an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization (WHO ).

Do what you like and… you’ll have to keep working

Suzana da Rosa Tolfo, professor of the Psychology course at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and specialist in labor relations, states that there is a strong connection between the idealization of the profession and illness. “When work is excessively central to a person’s life, it tends to lead to illness, because the stressors at work can exceed the possibility of her reacting”, says the expert.

This is because we tend to idealize the “fun” professions and forget that every job brings situations of dissatisfaction. Turning a passion into money, therefore, can be frustrating if expectations aren’t calibrated. “Sometimes, when fun becomes a professional activity, it loses its fun,” says Caioá. “There is a false idea that when you do what you love, the world becomes a honeymoon. It’s not true,” he warns. In a discussion on the Reddit forum, a user compares working with what he likes to “putting your favorite music on the alarm clock”.

Renata Dania, 32, knows these ups and downs well. Three years ago, one of her greatest hobbies became a full-time profession: she is one of the members of Clube do Bordado, a group of six women who create embroidery products, workshops, courses and events. “I like to embroider, I like what I do. But people have the wrong idea that it’s going to be beautiful every day,” she says. The Club started as a meeting of friends in 2013 and became a business in 2014, when they started taking orders.

At the time, Dania worked as a stylist and, after working eight hours a day, she embroidered to meet the demands of the Club. What was fun started to become an obligation as well. “When you start working with a hobby, you automatically diminish the role of this activity in your life as a hobby. From the moment I started working with embroidery, I board less during leisure time, because I want to do other things that don’t go back to work,” he says.

Architect and foreman Ingrid Cabral Soares, 29, is going through a moment similar to what Renata Dania experienced between 2014 and 2016, when she accumulated a steady job and jobs for Clube do Bordado. The architect joined her parents in 2018 to turn a family hobby into therapy for her depressed father and a source of income.

Ingrid Cabral Soares, who created Óiasó Tapetes

Image: Instagram/Personal Archive

Thus was born Óiasó Tapetes, made of loom products. “The rug takes all my time away from regular work. Sometimes I’m at the construction site and giving it a shot at the factory,” he says. The company grew quickly, and Ingrid realized that the hobby became serious work when her income passed the annual limit for Individual Microentrepreneur (MEI) earnings in 2019. Today, she seeks other activities that bring pleasure, and when she talks with her mother on the phone, he needs to say at the beginning of the conversation: “It’s forbidden to talk about rugs on this call”, he jokes.

“Just work without play…”

Renata Dania guarantees that she still loves to embroider and works with pleasure, but explains that she also looks for other activities to distract herself, like meeting friends and cooking. Channeling leisure into other activities is essential, psychologists guarantee, and it is necessary to be careful not to focus only on “productive” hobbies.

“In our society, time is money, and doing nothing is considered a waste of productive time, which often reduces idleness”, observes Suzana Tolfo. In the bestseller “Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep”, published in 2014, Jonathan Crary already warned: “There are now very few significant interludes in human existence (with the colossal exception of sleep) that have not been permeated or appropriated by the time of work, by consumption or by marketing”.

The specialist defends investing in manual activities and other forms of leisure without the objective of consuming (either information or products), just for the purpose of rest. Want tips on where to start? The New York Times has a complete guide (in English) to finding a hobby.

The important thing is to make sure that the maxim “love what you do and you won’t have to work one day in your life” doesn’t turn into “love what you do and you won’t like anything else”.