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Sometimes I Don't Like Happy Dinosaur
Can you grow to resent a hobby? Is a hobby business worth it? What it feels like when Happy Dinosaur can be too much, and what is feels like when there's nothing I want to do more than make dinosaurs.
Sometimes people will question their career, wondering if they should throw it all away for something simpler, or to pursue their hobby instead of sitting behind a desk. When we question the path we’ve paved for ourselves there are people who wave us onward and help us reroute an uncleared path and there are people who will put up every “yield,” “stop,” and “do not enter” sign they can. Our friends, family, mentors and teachers watch us on our journey and when we wonder if what we’ve worked on is our true passion, I wonder if those people are looking with disappointment or encouragement.
I have wanted to be a veterinarian since I was five years old and since then I have never considered anything else…until this semester. The workload has been difficult and the classes have not been easy, but I’ve been afraid to even ponder whether this path is right or wrong for me since I don’t want to back out just because it got more difficult, after all, I’ve prided myself on being able to handle hard work and not quit when things get dirty or hard to understand.
There is a dichotomy between the people I’ve told this dilemma too: on one side I have people telling me to follow my passion if it makes me happy and to give up on an art career would be a waste of talent. On the other side I have people telling me pursing an art career would be a waste of my education, time, and money; I have made an investment and to pull out could either be a small win or a great loss, and if I chose to give up veterinary medicine for a hobby career would cause me to begin to resent the one thing that I go to as a relief from the pressure of anatomy, physiology and genetics.
I do not like the idea of hating art. I don’t like the idea of hating any of my hobbies and sometimes I worry that sometimes I hate Happy Dinosaur.
I don’t actually hate Happy Dinosaur, but sometimes when I have a million orders it becomes a monotonous task instead of something I enjoy. Or maybe I just hate deadlines? Or maybe I don’t actually like follow-through. Or maybe I can’t handle the hard work. I don’t know.
Sometimes you feel the overwhelming loudness of the expectation that someone has for you to get something done. I think expectation and responsibility are related and they can change the way you see your hobby. Essentially, a hobby doesn’t have deadlines; a hobby is a little side project or something that you do for you. When you turn your hobby into a business, then you are no longer doing your hobby only for you but for your clients, for your followers, for viewers of your product.
In past posts I discussed how Happy Dinosaur has changed in structural integrity and construction over time since my first plush. If I had made a Happy Dinosaur only for myself, I might have been satisfied with how he came out and never improved him—but if I wanted to sell dinosaurs to another person I had a responsibility to them to make a toy than is safe and professionally made. I may be able to settle for a lumpy dinosaur with his stitches showing but some little girl or boy across the country getting their dinosaur for Christmas deserves a properly made dinosaur. They are expecting a good dinosaur and their whoever bought the dinosaur is expecting to get it in quick amount of time.
Thinking back on this, I wonder if I had never decided to sell Happy Dinosaur then I would never have improved my product and I would have ended up with another craft I didn’t care about that would find its way to a bin in the basement. But I did realize that deciding to sell Happy Dinosaur changes the game for me on my hobby.
You’ve herd of redundant phrases like “past history” or “working mother,” and you’ve probably heard of oxymorons like “small crowd” or “old news,” and I think “Hobby Business” is a bit of both. I have learned through many entrepreneurs’ advice that you should like what you do for your career and if you love what you’re doing it never actually feels like work. If a hobby is an activity that you enjoy and like to work on then, then “hobby business” is redundant, but I am in the phase of my career where I wonder if “hobby businesses” are too oxymoronic to be real.
As soon as you turn something you do for yourself into something you do for someone else it doesn’t feel like a hobby anymore. You now have responsibility and expectation attached to every product you send out. You no longer can say “oh I’ll take a break from this project and work on something else for a while,” because you likely have someone waiting for you to get them that product. Sometimes you don’t even feel like you can step away from your work and be proud of it because the pace of orders separates you from being able to observe your accomplishments.
I think that is where I am with my school work—which I would certainly credit for my questioning interest in a STEM career—in which there isn’t time to say: look, I finished this, because there is always something else to do immediately after. By the time I’ve finished every assignment and study for every last exam and submitted every project; or I’ve sewn every dinosaur ordered and finished all my dinosaur accounting work, I’m too burned out to feel happy about completing them.
When I am sick of school work I make dinosaurs, when I’m overwhelmed with dinosaurs I listen to lectures while drawing and when I’m sick of both of those things I think I probably just eat. I hate feeling like I’m getting tired of 1) my career dream of 14 years and 2) my hobby of about the same duration. How can I possibly be feeling tired of something I’ve only just started? I’ve only been a college student for three semesters and Happy Dinosaur is only a year and a half old.
Right now I think I’m just getting lazy and I have to push through the hard work in Animal Science. As I recently was told in a Werth Coffee Chat: “You have to embrace the suck, you have to get through it” before it gets easy. After all, it’s called hard work, not easy work…and I really think it will all pay off. I may not see the results of my success until I’m 60 and finally pay off veterinary school debt and I can look back on the years spent in education and say, I’m glad you didn’t quit when it got hard. I’m holding out for it though and I’ll see where it goes. I don’t foresee me giving up Happy Dinosaur either and I think if I find a better balance between my work and my hobby I might just be able to answer those questions in the beginning of this post: what am I willing to give up for the mutually exclusive alternate…? Would a waste of talent or a waste of time and investment be a greater loss in the long run? And…what will genuinely, and sincerely, make me Happy at the end of it all?