Singing in the shower has always had the potential to refresh me. But then when I was talking to my cousin about how empowering it is to sing, she scoffed and said “if only it were easier to get into it, huh?”
But what if I don’t want to be a professional singer?
We as a society seem to be obsessed with the idea of perfection. Whenever a new venture is taken up, we aim to reach the skies. Our social media feeds are filled with individualistic motivational posts that talk about hustle culture and the never-ending grind. Even something as calming as music has been made into a competitive industry. But where does this competitiveness come from?
Making of the Villain
Capitalism compels us to be better. Capitalism, as an economic system, values free market and the flow of capital. It allows everyone to showcase their skills and rewards them adequately. But how does such a simple system which apparently seems to value individualistic skills turn into an exhausting environment where dreams don’t thrive but plunge to their deaths?
In today’s world, if you are not the best, you are the worst. Nobody values the average anymore. Today’s commercial world values profitability above all. While capitalism’s purest intentions were to give everyone equal space aside from their status and class, the structured prejudices and social stratification made sure that capitalism favors only the privileged. Only the privileged get to participate and win in this cutthroat world. The winners keep on winning and the standards of victory keep getting higher.
The focus is not only on the winners. But more importantly, the winners who bring in the most money. Monetary value is attached to not only goods and services but also to people. Celebrities are measured not in their talent but in their net worth. What started as a liberating system is now the villain of all that does not rake in huge piles of money.
The Carnage of Capitalism
Since capitalism allows you to put a price on anything, you begin to put a price on everything.
Today, you are not allowed to simply bake but must start a small baking business. You can keep it small for a while but then you must aim to make it even bigger. The final step that mocks and taunts you is to then establish a successful franchise worldwide and feature in a magazine with a photo shoot and an interview. Since that level of commitment sounds exhausting, you give up this hobby and go back to scrolling Instagram. But Instagram reminds you of all the other successful people. In the end, you lose without even participating.
In this hustle, we have lost the joys of leisure. We no longer paint just to play with colours and attempt to create art but want to post it on social media and get commissions. We no longer write poetry to express ourselves or gift it to our favourite people but try to get it published ASAP. We no longer play sports because it allows us to move our body and bond with friends but immediately want to play for the big leagues and to be able to get a sponsorship.
There is something inherently sad and disturbing about how our hobbies need to be productive. We need to normalize the fact that our leisure time is ours. It doesn’t need to be productive. It needs to be fun and recreational. Having a drink with your friends should count as time well spent. Watching a nice movie should be an activity in itself and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.
Slaying the Monster
Capitalism has become a way of life. It is not possible for all of us to leave society and become mendicants, leaving behind all worldly possessions. But you can surely try and silently resist this invisibly oppressive system.
- Take out at least 30 minutes from your life to do something you really enjoy.
- Stay in the present. Don’t think about the future of your hobby or whatever activity you are indulging in.
- Spend time with your loved ones but don’t document it anywhere. You don’t need to post an Instagram story. It’s the moment that counts.
- Keep trying new activities- especially the ones you are terrible at! Try to savour the process and not focus on what the result will be.
Leisure is being murdered with our increasing fixation on profitability. There are other, more important things like health (both mental and physical), contentment, kindness towards humanity, and satisfaction with life choices. We must not forget what actually matters in life.