Photography is a hobby of mine. I love wandering around the city with my camera, challenging myself to find a new perspective and take a great photo. Or two. Every now and then I come back with a shot of which I am truly proud, and thanks to social media, I can easily share it with my friends and acquaintances.
It’s lovely to hear that other people enjoy my photos, and every so often someone suggests that I could make money with them. While I wouldn’t object if an opportunity came along that would show my work on a larger scale and/or pay me for it, that is not why I take photos.
My motivation is internal; I want to get better for my own gratification. If I can find beauty in something and capture it in a photo? That is success. If other people like it too, it’s a nice bonus, but it’s enough for me that I like it.
Parents are sometimes guilty of trying to force a hobby into something more. Their kid likes building with Lego? Let’s enroll him in an architecture class, or at the very least Lego Robotics! Their son memorized the entire “Thriller” dance in one afternoon? He must enroll in Alvin Ailey and pursue dance. She had fun playing Chopsticks? Next stop, Carnegie Hall!
You get the idea.
Of course, there are times when a hobby leads to a profession or career, which is great. If that happens it won’t be because someone forced a child’s interest, but because the child cannot be kept away from whatever it is. Insisting that a hobby become an all consuming passion that will lead to a career is often the surest way to kill all interest in a subject.
Sometimes a hobby is just that.
However, “just” implies that it is of little or no importance, and nothing could be further from the truth. Hobbies give life color and flavor and challenge, and because they are not required, all the motivation is internal and completion or success is its own reward.
Encourage and support your children in their hobbies, for as long and as much as they want to pursue them. Don’t insist they do more; don’t pressure them to make it more than “just” a hobby. A hobby can be one of the best things in life.