Quick Post: The Concept of the “Hobby”; Don’t Sell Yourself Short!

I hate the word “Hobby”, especially when it gets applied to any expressive arts. It’s defined as 

an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation andnot as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting andwoodcarving.

a child’s hobbyhorse.

Archaic. a small horse.



ride a hobby, to concern oneself excessively with a favoritenotion or activity. Also, ride a hobbyhorse.
1325–75; Middle English hoby n ), probably for Robin,  or Robert  (cf.hob2 ), used as horse’s name, as in dobbin


Dont’ know what horses have to do with this concept, but anyway, I take issue with calling something you are passionate about a “hobby”. Many so called hobbies have led to gallery shows and professions. Many have led to nothing but pleasure in the doing or making or watching or whatever. When I was a teenager, my main hobby was reading books; I didn’t think of it as connected to a career or even to school. I loved books and the act of reading. I liked being inside someone’s mind, the intimacy of the text. I didn’t even like writing very much. Anyway reading books occupied most of my free time and the only description I can think of for it is it was a habit/activity.

Anyway, next time you talk to someone who says bird watching is their hobby, I bet that person knows a ton about birds and would be better off saying they enjoy engaging in bird watching on a regular basis.

The other annoying related expression is the “weekend painter”, implying that this artist is an amateur who fits in extra time to paint but is not as good as a so called professional painter. First off if you are painting every weekend, you are ahead of a lot of artists in terms of hours put in anyway. Secondly, just because you spend more time doing something other than painting does not mean painting is less important to you.

And that is what’s most important about the concept of the hobby, the implication that whatever you do most of the time is what’s important to you and anything else is secondary. Not true.

In fact, blogging is kind of in that category for me now, so I guess I can say I “blog” or even that I’m a “blogger”…

So if you love photography, horseback riding, water skiing, painting, making boxes, etc., embrace what you’re doing. You don’t need a label for it, so at least don’t use the word hobby. After all verbs are closer to the truth than nouns. What you are doing and how you feel about it is what’s important, not how to explain or define it to anyone else!

2 thoughts on “Quick Post: The Concept of the “Hobby”; Don’t Sell Yourself Short!

  1. As someone who you’ve yelled at for that term I wanted to acknowledge the power of word choice ere. I wonder if we did a study whether women would be more likely to call their skills hobbies than men? Children have hobbies. Adults using that term makes it sound like children’s activity, one they themselves don’t even value. I get it now. Thanks for the enlightenment.


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