Your favorite song had something special about it. There was a particular way that the instrument in the background heightened everything else that was a part of the song, and you were dying to know what it was. You discovered it was a violin.

A few years later, you begin taking lessons. It’s the highlight of your week, and you’re hesitant to put it down even after getting home after class. But flash forward a few years, and suddenly you’ve been introduced to a world of competitions and recitals. Practicing doesn’t hold the same charm it used to, and playing that one beloved song that introduced you to the violin — it’s become a chore.

Society’s standards are ever-changing, and nowadays, the bar is set higher than ever. There’s so much pressure to excel in a variety of things, regardless of whether you are a student, employee, or simply a general member of society, just so you can be considered qualified for your respective role. But what happens to our personal passions and hobbies?

Hobbies are meant to be activities done solely for the purpose of relaxation, contentment, and enjoyment. Treating each one like a lemon and squeezing out as much resume material as you can forfeits its purpose. It’s counterproductive to go the extra mile with every single thing you do. The increasingly prevalent mindset of “if it doesn’t add any value to my resume, it adds no value to me as a person” is incredibly damaging, and honestly just makes living your life so much harder. Moreover, it can lead to participation in pseudo-hobbies, aka mind-numbing activities that offer little to no gratification and not much more than a line on a resume.

More commonly, people spend whatever free time they have watching shows or going online. There’s nothing wrong with having those things as a hobby if you are truly enjoying the time spent, and I’m here for it. But that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore — scrolling endlessly has become yet another way to simply consume free time. Ever catch yourself thumbing mindlessly through TikTok for a study break, just to discover two hours have passed and that you still feel bored, dissatisfied, and mildly crappy? When you do something just to feel like you are relaxing while enjoying nothing about it, what’s the point?

As a society, we need to overcome the absolutely insane expectation of intertwining every aspect of our lives with our professional goals. Some things are meant to be separate. It’s okay if some hobbies become something solely to add to your resume, and it’s good to push yourself and expand your skill set. But it’s so important to have at least one hobby that is for you and you only, regardless of whether it helps you in your future pursuits.

Our identities are shaped by what we think and we do. If nothing we do reflects our interests beyond career aspirations, then a whole chunk of who you are is left behind. Amidst everything else you get to experience, you owe to yourself to allow for the time to explore what makes you happy.

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