It’s in human nature to be competitive. It’s normal to want to be very good or ideally the best at things we love doing. What is sports without it? That shot of mental endorphin we apply to ourselves. It is what keeps us growing and learning for a lifetime.
Doing something you love and actually being good or excellent at it certainly delivers a great feeling. A boost to the self-esteem, adding self confidence.
Typically, it will also give stimulus to keep going. Results are the best way to find the energy and desire to invest more into getting better. From there on it becomes a bit a self-enforcing spiral upwards. Growth causing improved result, improved results causing growth.
For many, the next big step from being a keen practitioner is becoming a professional. Show to all that you can make a living out of your passion. And in return, getting to indulge in your passion and getting paid for that. It definitely sounds ideal.
It can be ideal. For sure it can be. But it’s not as much a given as popular belief has it. The professional world isn’t about passion, it is about the results. And those results are those that are in demand, not necessarily what you or I would consider best. The mechanisms how you take on your work is different. You’re not always at liberty to do what you like to do best, but you may get stuff assigned that you don’t like doing at all. That is as much part of being a professional as continuing to develop your skills is part.
Why I’m not interested in that
Computers and the technology around them used to be one of my biggest hobbies and interests. And now that I have an IT-related job for a bit over 20 years, I can honestly say it’s not my hobby anymore.
The problem is not the level of interest or passion. The problem is that work is work. It is about deadlines, about delivering what is required. And it is about understanding that things have to work, not necessarily be the prettiest thing ever.
Photography came later, and ever since that bug really bit me, I’ve always known I would never become a professional photographer. Now that’s easy to say. Nobody ever asked me to deliver photos for money, at no time it ever made sense or had any likelihood of succeeding. It never was on the cards anyway. Even so, I wouldn’t have jumped on the opportunity if it ever existed.
The happy hobbyist
Being a hobbyist does sound like a solid step below a pro. Aspiring, but just not that good. I don’t necessarily agree with that for creative efforts such as photography.
As a hobbyist, you are completely free to do whatever you like. No compromises because somebody else wants you to do different. Work the way you like, when you like.
In a creative effort, having this freedom can be very liberating. Some people can be creative in any situation. Many, including me, cannot. That relative peace of mind creates the headspace that allows creativity to come through. The pressure to deliver may more easily force you into tried-and-tested recipes. And those results may look stellar, but they won’t push your envelope.
So, being a hobbyist isn’t all that bad. It might actually allow more growth due to a lack of pressure to deliver. It really depends on how it works for you.
The happy unhappy hobbyist
So serious hobbyists committed to grow can certainly be every bit as good as a professional. They just don’t need to be as good consistently.
Another luxury as hobbyist is that there is no expectation. So if things aren’t working out the way you hope, it’s OK. No harm done. Perhaps if you structurally share on social media or a website, people wonder where you’re gone.
If that’s the case, you just write a message or blog post about what it’s like to be a hobbyist. And why that’s just fine for you.
P.S. I haven’t seriously touched my cameras for over a month, almost two. For me, that’s very long. I mentioned before that I’ve been less motivated, and it hasn’t grown better. So writing on this site seems a bit silly – it’s about stuff I’m not actually doing. Armchair expert. Hence this post 🙂