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Alone, but not lonely

Before you can enjoy the company of someone else wholeheartedly, you need to learn to be by yourself.

I absolutely adore my own company. I had roommates the first semester of my first year of university, and by the second semester, I’d moved out on my own. 

I guess that’s what comes with growing up as an only child. 

While some people recharge their batteries with big social events, I recharge with a cup of Murchie’s tea (specifically) and at least a 48-hour hiatus, no matter how long my last social interaction was. Those 48 hours are my time to simply exist and plan. Plot, if you will. Over my 20 years of living, my coveted time alone has led to a significant amount of personal growth. 

For only children, it’s much easier to spend time alone because we are accustomed to being self-sufficient. We had to find ways to entertain ourselves and not feel lonely when we were by ourselves. We were our own best friend. 

For those who aren’t used to being on their own, it can be scary.  There is no one to entertain you, no one to talk to face to face. It’s a tough situation to be in, especially during short and dreary winter days. 

The first step to conquering this is to learn how to enjoy your own company. It is not something that can be taught, but it is something to learn. I am very proud to have determined how best to spend my time alone and, in the spirit of it getting dark at 4:30 p.m., how to use those same tactics to battle the winter blues. 

Make your favourite beverage, and try a new recipe: aside from a good London Fog tea, my favourite thing is a teapot of cambric tea. With a new homemade baked good or the result of that new dinner recipe I found (who knows where), this is a favourite pastime.

Listen to a podcast (not music): Especially if you grew up with siblings, having background chatter will help you feel less isolated. I love listening to Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café—though I know how every story ends, I always find the endings hilarious, especially if it involves the questionable decisions of the main character, Dave. No one ever said that you have to actively listen to a podcast…

Explore: Go to a new metro station and explore the general vicinity to get your however-many thousand steps in. Who knows, you might find your favourite new café. This is truly a two-birds-one-stone situation.

Go for a drive: Sing along to some music, put together that great comeback you should’ve said when you had the chance, or drive to your favourite haunt outside of the city. Just make sure you don’t turn left at a red light.

Clean: Maybe it’s just me, but cleaning is therapeutic and a great way to kill time. I genuinely look forward to Sundays because, though a bit unorthodox, it is my apartment deep clean day. 

Reset: Tying into the above, when the space around you is clean, your mind is too – doing a weekly reset, whether that’s to clean, go work out, or do your favourite thing around the city–  to jump into Monday in full swing is a great way to take your mind off of that lonely feeling.

Write: Sure, I’m an English Lit Major so this is a given, but how else do you think this article got written? (For context, I’m currently on my 48-hour hiatus).

The results of self-growth from spending time alone are the foundations of being an adult. Like any habit or routine, it will take some time getting used to being comfortable spending time alone. However, getting to know yourself in a solitary setting and being okay with being alone is a pretty big (and sought after) achievement. It allows you to protect your peace. So, just take a deep breath, and see where the day takes you.

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“You should sell this on Etsy!”

A small critique of the pressure to monetize your hobbies

Admit it, you’ve heard this before. Either for a friend or for yourself, you’ve at least had the thought of using talent to make extra dough.

It just makes sense: you’re putting time aside during the day to do something you love, so you might as well be paid for it. Making candles with no intention of selling them after would be, in this world, a waste of time.

After all, you already lost all the time and effort to get you to a point where your designs are good enough for profit. So why not make up for it and start a small business as soon as possible?

With the rise of social media and online businesses, everyone can have a side hustle now.

E-commerce sites like Etsy also make it easier for creatives to sell online.

In a society where we are defined by our professions, we take a chance at monetizing everything we produce.

When people introduce themselves, the first thing they usually say after their name and age is their profession. There is a sense of accomplishment in adding “small-business owner” to their resume, instead of a hobby.

However, a hobby is traditionally defined as “an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working.”

Essentially, that’s how our first hobbies started with after-school activities. But as we grow older, activities that require skills but don’t directly generate income tend to be put on the back-burner.

So what happens if we decide to use our leisure time to work more?

Hustle culture takes over and we feel like failures if we’re not working towards a goal.

After all, this is what we are brought up to believe in this capitalist economy where people are praised for working hard, and shamed for being lazy.

As I think about my past interests as an adult, I can’t help but realize that I tried to turn all of them into side hustles.

When I was interested in makeup, I looked up how to become a make-up artist and was ready to make that a side job.

And since I always loved to plan my friends and family’s birthday parties, everyone around me encouraged me to start an event planning business.

We are always encouraged to find a career we love. If you hate your job, you’re viewed as unsuccessful, because, as they say, “if you love your job, you won’t have to work a day in your life.”

But when you turn your passions into work, your pastimes become chores.

Work includes deadlines, customer service, stress, and putting in effort even when you don’t feel like it, whereas a hobby is a voluntary choice to put time aside to do something that makes you forget about work.

When you turn a hobby into work, you might simply not enjoy it as much.

There is also an aspect of privilege that we tend to forget about. Making money from a hobby takes talent, and in order to grow and harvest talent, you need practice.

It takes time and practice to get your hobby to a point where it has monetary value.

And in a capitalist society where time is money, not everyone can have the leisure of taking time to pursue their hobbies.

This is all a vicious cycle that makes us lose sight of the reason why we start a hobby in the first place: an escape from work.

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