I was talking with a friend the other day about how back in the olden days (aka high school) I was in concert choir and color guard. I may not get any cool points for admitting that, but I really enjoyed both. I lamented the fact that there’s not really an opportunity to participate in either of those activities once you’re out of high school or college if you are talented enough to have earned a coveted spot.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many activities we enjoyed in our formative years are largely inaccessible to us as an adult when we need the respite of a hobby the most. Why is that?
When we’re 18, we are expected to have our lives mapped out. We are expected to declare a major or a trade, and jump into adulthood with both feet, and somewhere along the way, we interpreted that as leaving behind activities that didn’t either produce a profit or connect us with people who could help us advance professionally or socially. It makes me sad for the kid inside all of us. I’ve heard several mom friends mention that they’ve lost themselves and don’t have any hobbies, unless binge watching Netflix after the kids are in bed counts as a hobby. In that case, I am very accomplished. This post is to myself as much as it is to any of you. I’m only beginning to take my own advice.
I am always impressed when I browse Etsy and Pinterest, and discover all the creative ideas people come up with. Sometimes I try to recreate the projects I see because it could save me money, but if we’re honest, 99% things don’t earn a spot on display because it looks like I was a couple bottles of cheap wine in when I made my craft. And that may or may not be the case, but that’s my business. What is the point of creating something if you can’t use it in your life or sell it to someone to make a profit? Maybe we should consider the fact that it is absolutely okay to create something for the sake of enjoying the process of creation. You are allowed to love making art even if there isn’t a market for your creations.
Your creativity is valid even if you don’t share it with anyone else. You don’t have to be Tony Hawk to ride that skateboard. You don’t have to have an impressive batting average to play on a church-league softball team. You don’t have to be a YouTube beauty guru with a million followers before you can get creative with makeup. You can be the slowest turtle on the track and still be a runner. Start where you are with the intention that doing something you enjoy is the ultimate goal. Free yourself from your own expectations of perfection and give yourself permission to be bad at something. Whatever you do will inevitably get better with practice and experience, it just will. Even if it doesn’t get exponentially better, it doesn’t matter because that isn’t the goal.
Our generation is experiencing increasing numbers of anxiety and depression. Play actually combats both of those, as well as providing benefits physically and mentally. If you are someone like me who has a hard time rationalizing spending time on things that aren’t considered productive, take that information and consider adding play into your life as something with a purpose.
As a parent, I want to model healthy attitudes surrounding work and fun for my children. I want them to have an excellent work ethic and be successful, but it is more important to me that they enjoy their lives and find happiness. If they see parents who only sacrifice and hustle but rarely relax and play, they will grow up with that same pressure on themselves.