Saturday, February 24, 2007

Job Vs. Hobby

It's been a slow, quiet, relaxing day, which is just what I needed. Did a little straightening of the house. Not much need for studying—had two exams Friday (Law & Econ), finished my weaving samples this week despite the knee, and spent Friday afternoon in the surface design lab finishing the dyeing/painting part of my mid-term project. I'm not sure if I like it. It seems... messy. I'll revisit it later and see if I still feel that way. I can always redo it.

So today I was thinking. Most of my thinking concerned the titles (labels) by which we identify ourselves and the origins thereof. I'll refrain from rambling on for hours about it, but in my case, perhaps in yours, too, my initial label was bestowed upon me by my parents for a variety of reasons I'm just now analyzing and am not quite ready to go into. One reason which I can share is that everyone else in my family is of the couldn't-carry-a-tune-in-a-bucket-with-help type, and I emerged with the ability to not only carry the tune, but figure it out by ear on the piano, and harmonize well with others. I also sang myself to sleep at night, repeating all the TV jingles I'd memorized. Therefore, my label was "musician".

Another thought I had was about commitment. In reviewing my week, I realized that despite my knee, I'd gone to my fibers classes anyway because no way was I going to miss the highlight of my week. But had those classes been Law, Econ, or even my Creativity class, I'd have been tempted to bail and spend the afternoon nursing my injury. That got me thinking about other interests in my life and how an injury or illness might affect my commitment to them.

Surprise. Music didn't pass. I remember times during my rock band years when I was so sick I should have been hospitalized (flu, bronchitis) yet I was "forced" to show up to the gig anyway because as Stevie Nicks once said, "you can't call in sick to Fleetwood Mac" (or any other small-town band). I told myself that. But in my heart, I didn't subscribe to it, and I was very angry and resentful that I wasn't home in bed sleeping but up on stage under hot lights with a fever of 101, a racking cough, and nausea. Singing anyway.

If my commitment to music was never that strong, then why the hell did I spend the better part of 30 years pursuing it as a career? (I started guitar lessons at age 6, first band at 15, didn't quit trying or playing until about 1997.) OK, 15 years if you wanna get technical.

Why? Because that was my label, my title. I'd been proclaimed to be The Musician early in life, before I was old enough to have experienced other things and make up my own mind. I liked music well enough so it was okay to bear that title. It wasn't until I was much older that I began to question its validity.

So here I am. Rethinking my entire identity. Part of that arose naturally following my parents' deaths (it says so in the books I'm reading). Sometimes it makes me angry, because I feel like I bounced from one thing to another in search of a title that fit ME and was acceptable to my parents, yet nothing fit. Wondering where the bar was actually set, because I couldn't seem to come anywhere near it. Oh, I know they loved me, and were proud of my accomplishments, and Dad thought I had a brilliant mind; but I recall hearing from Mother plenty of times, "you've got a good brain, if you'd only learn how to use it!" along with degrading my latest new interest because it wasn't brainy enough, academic enough. Horsemanship Instructor? "Hard labor! You got an education so you wouldn't have to do that/why would you want to anyway?" Musician? "Waste of time. Nobody ever 'makes' it". I could go on...

What I'm finding the most difficult to deal with is the blocks against changing that label. It's amazing how far your mind will go to prevent you from changing anything to which it has grown accustomed. It simply refuses to shed the old labels and adhere to and accept the new ones I'm trying to attach. Like "artist", for example. I've gotten as far as calling myself that, but I haven't quite felt comfortable calling myself a "fine artist" or nailing down my medium. Fibers are definitely a passion, but I also find myself yearning to be in the painting studio. Every time I pass it on the way to the bathroom, I pause and inhale a deep whiff of the scent of linseed oil and oil paints. Mmmmm.

The last line of thinking for the day concerned careers and working. It's sad to think how many people spend their lives working at a job they hate, or tolerate at best. If we lived to be 90, and spent 30 years working, that's one-third of our years. If we spend 40 hours per week on the job, that's 23% of our 30 years not counting commutes, lunch hours and time spent getting ready in the morning. It's like 1/6th of our total 90-year life span, spent doing something we hate. This may be part of why I've always resented the insistence that I must get a "real" job. My aversion runs so deeply that the mere mention of the word "job" makes my stomach roll over. "Hobby" makes me feel belittled. Yet, I'm besieged by the need to look for an acceptable "job" that I can hate like everyone else does.

Why? Why should I hate a major part of my life when there are so many things I can do that I love? Some of those things are marketable skills. Maybe I won't find them listed in the want ads, but careers can be made out of them.

Why NOT turn a hobby into a job? I felt so smart today when I thought I'd coined a new term: Jobby! Job+hobby = Jobby. I repeated the word aloud and found peace. Jobby. As in,
A hobby that has become a paying, financially successful career.
The artist sold a commissioned artwork and made painting her jobby.

Then I Googled it. Apparently it's already a very popular slang term.

Guess what it means? Not my definition by a long shot.



At 1:13 PM, February 25, 2007, Anonymous tiennie said...

You know, I've always felt that I did not want a jobby. I didn't want my hobby to feel like work and when I was able to spend time on my hobby, it would be a pleasure. But I do envy people that can have a jobby and it be a good thing. I don't think I could pull it off. Good thing that I like my work and hobby.


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