I still remember my very first art piece in art class: a color pencil drawing of me holding hands with a Chinese cartoon character, XiYangYang. I fell in love with art. I loved the feeling of being able to create anything I wanted with so many different mediums, and pretty soon I was drawing everyday, even outside of art class.
Now, that art piece is buried under hundreds of discarded sheets of paper and canvases, haphazardly shoved into the corner of a storage closet.
I don’t remember when I stopped drawing. I had always subconsciously known that art wasn’t something I wanted to pursue as a career, but it wasn’t until high school that I felt that it was a waste of time. As I saw classmates prepare detailed and fleshed out pieces for AP Studio Art, I felt left behind, as if I had missed an opportunity to do something with my art. What was the point of my hobby if it didn’t lead me to anything?
I dug up my brushes and paints last year over quarantine on a whim and painted just for the sake of painting, with no expectations of any sort. It was nostalgic, reminding me of my childhood when I drew without worrying about the future or anything else, beyond getting the proportions right or mixing a specific shade of blue. It was grounding.
We find ourselves perpetuating this cycle of never doing enough because everything we do must lead towards some higher goal. Everything we do must be working towards something bigger. Hobbies need to be monetized into a small-business, used to pad your resume, or if they don’t have any tangible value, then they must be guiding you down some path of self-realization and discovery. Your free time must be strategically allocated to be the most productive use of your time.
It’s not to say that profiting off of your hobby is bad, or that hobbies and careers should be mutually exclusive, but rather that it’s okay to not be gaining something from your hobby other than joy. We don’t need to capitalize on everything we do.
I still don’t draw everyday. But every once in a while, I’ll pick up my pencil or brushes and rediscover my love for art. That is enough for me.