No more side hustles. Only hobbies.

Hellew all 🙂

I feel a possible cold coming on. I’m all achy. I’m a day late with this post. Forgive me if this rambling makes zero sense but give me points for trying. Thank you.

The combination of a fragile ego and wanting to make money off your creativity is a recipe for disaster. That’s our thesis.

Like, let’s say you want to learn to make plushies cos squishy fun times. Then, all of a sudden, you decide to sell them on Etsy because people do that and you could do that. So you start to learn to make plushies and they’re not good because you’re a beginner. And that means your Etsy business is failing before it even begins. You’re a failure. The lamest of girlbosses. A girlloser. Stop with the plushies, it won’t amount to anything. I do this. A lot. Dusty business plans all over my Google Drive.

I’ve talked before about holding my creativity hostage until it starts paying the bills and how that messes me up. That post didn’t make me stop doing it though, so I plan to further psychoanalyse and explore the “why.” Why am I a beginner with skill and an expert in expectation?

Let’s begin in childhood. When I was about 10 years old, I did some Islamic Calligraphy and my parents praised me. My dad said something like, “ooh you’re really good, keep practicing and you could sell those!” And my dad is super withholding with the compliments. So, my tiny heart soared. I continued doing calligraphy on and off. But I was harder on myself, I needed it to be perfect, it needed to be better, no one would buy this garbage! I eventually stopped altogether.

The same thing happened when I got into doing mehndi and makeup at the age of 13. My mum was super supportive and really wanted me to become a qualified beautician, because having a girl in the community who can do makeup and other salon services could be lucrative. But I don’t like salons and don’t want to beautify people, even as a side hustle. I slowly stopped being interested. I didn’t pick up on my makeup skills again until my 20s and only really got good now in my 30s.

There’s nothing wrong with me being encouraged to turn my talents or abilities into a service for my community that could lead to financial independence. It’s just that I’m kind of a loner and a lot of side hustles require a go-getter attitude and getting people on your side. The praise and the support and the nudging onto a certain path just makes me slowly back away and sabotage myself rather than disappoint anyone’s vision for my success. I’ve always been a high achiever academically, and that didn’t help because I never learnt to struggle. I just wanted to do my calligraphy, doodle henna on my own hands and do my own makeup. But there was all this pressure and expectation and I felt selfish for not wanting to use my talents to make money. So I developed a lot of anxiety around creating for its own sake.

So what about my financial future? Well, I acknowledge that side hustles are a financially necessary thing for many people, but not for me. I’ve been building a career and I’m proud of where I’ve arrived despite some challenges. I’ve just always felt a lot of pressure from wider society to monetise my interests. Online, I see a lot of stories of people who turned their passions into businesses and it’s presented as the ideal life.

Offline, when I mention my interests to people, I’m often advised to turn them into a way to make money. I had an interest in making videos for a while and people would tell me I should make money on YouTube. I mention my blog and people assume I must make money from it (I don’t). I even mentioned to someone the other day that I play videogames and they told me that people make so much money on Twitch, so I should stream my gaming. I mention that I can sew and people immediately wonder if I could make money from alterations. They mean well and these could all just be sweet compliments, but my brain just panics because the filter that tells me it’s okay not to take other people’s comments to heart is just broken and I don’t know how to fix it. I end up feeling like I’m not enough of a go-getter and I’m wasting my time if I don’t have a business plan. Then perfectionism, self-doubt and a fragile ego all show up to the party to “help out”.

I spent my teens and twenties struggling with this. I want to create but my mindset is now warped and thinks the finish line of pursuing my passions and curiosities is financial compensation. Then the pressures of wanting financial success would stifle my creativity. I would basically just be an awful boss, bullying and intimidating myself to create perfectly the first time or risk getting fired from my interests.

The failure of being a desi entrepeneur and my failure at succeeding at a side hustle function as a one-two punch leaving me reeling in yet another identity crisis as I try to focus on what I actually want. I can’t change what people say, so I need to learn to worry less about what they think. I’m trying to unlearn the bad lessons I’ve learned. I need to build that filter. So I decided to stop telling people about my interests until I was enjoying them enough to keep doing them regardless of money or opinions. I just pursue.

Over the past 8 months, I’ve sought to heal my inner child and let her explore all the creative pursuits her overly sensitive heart requires. I’ve told her she only needs to do things for her own enjoyment and to follow her own curiosities. She is not allowed to business plan or even think about making money. She’s always wanted to dance, to draw, to sew, to game, to entertain others and to write. To that end: I’ve been attending a bellydancing class for 7 months, I joined a writing community and began blogging regularly, I can now do basic sewing, and, just for the fun of it, I’ve been thinking of doing Twitch streaming to see if I can entertain others. But I will tell no one until I am confident about doing these activities just for the fun of doing them. I mean, I’ve told you… but only you. Don’t tell anyone. Just kidding, please share this post with anyone who might benefit. ‘kay thanks.

All of these are without the expectation of making any money. In fact, I’m spending money. And that’s actually helped me with the guilt. I have a career that funds my interests, not the other way around. The things I love do not have to feed me. They are no-strings-attached enrichment activities where I can succeed or fail with absolutely no repercussions on my financial wellbeing.

And let me tell you, this mindset shift has been so incredibly fulfilling. I’m getting better at things I had written off as no longer possible. I’m getting better at being on my own. I’m getting better at being more confident and not minding what others say. I’m getting to know myself better and my life feels full and exciting.

Is this what it means to have hobbies? To have interests that enrich you, rather than an internal pressure to realise the visions of others?

I think so. It feels wild.

If you’re a people-pleaser too who wants to try new things, I would recommend pursuing creative interests for their own sake. It’s rewarding, stress-free and once you build that confidence, who knows where it might lead you.

Don’t hold your creativity hostage.

Follow your curiosity.

And I would appreciate a like or a follow if this has helped/entertained you in any way.

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  1. Not monetizing your hobby also ensures that your content will be more authentic; there’s no need to avoid taking risks or produce stuff you don’t care about in order to please others. Lack of apparent monetization also helps to convey your authenticity to your audience.

    I also figure that if the content I create attracts barely any views, likes, or comments, then it’s not worth monetizing. This simplifies my life and ensures that my hobbies are primarily meant to serve myself.

    Liked by 1 person


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