When you do things that are fun, it doesn’t seem like work. I recently heard two influential writers – Tavi Gevinson and Khairani Barokka – talk about only wanting to do things that are fun in life. Perhaps to a non-creative, this idea sounds a little immature and selfish, and dare I say it, a high sense of entitlement. How can one get through life only doing the fun stuff? I realised that I feel the same way. I only want to do the things that are fun and that interest me. I want to love what I do. It’s about creating personal happiness, curating a life I want to live, and limiting stressful situations, therefore reducing the likelihood of getting sick. When I’m happy I’m well (mostly).
Wanting to do fun things means I can do the things I’m good at most of the time. Does anyone want to do things they’re not good at? I hated my undergraduate degree (Bachelor of eCommerce) because I wasn’t good at it. It was hard and there were a lot of concepts I did not understand, I was not really interested in the subject matter (I could not see how I’d ever apply economic principles or calculus to my life or future career), and I didn’t get good marks in all my subjects. It was not fun. Fortunately I stuck this degree out and it was the pre-requisite for a graduate program position. Which was – surprise – not fun for the most part because I found it very hard and I wasn’t so interested in the content. (A few years after I commenced the graduate program, I won a job that I really enjoy and am good at – which has genuinely made a positive difference to my health and happiness.)
Then I went to study a Master of Communication. I got to choose most of my subjects (and a lot of the topics for assessment), I was interested in all of my subjects, I saw how this degree applied to my day job, goals and areas of interest, and I was good at all of my subjects. It was fun. I would spend hours reading or listening to podcasts for assessments, going above and beyond, and I now miss the prescribed learning.
Of course there’s still a fear of failure (I often have performance anxiety prior to writing), but it’s not the same dismal failure as the time I got 40% in a super hard maths exam in year 11. I did find that I placed a different sort of pressure on myself during my postgraduate study – I wanted no less than a distinction, because I was working hard, was interested in and enjoyed the subject matter and knew I was good at the degree.
But I think choosing only to do fun things is limiting. If I am honest, I have probably stifled my day job progression because I am very picky about jobs I apply for. If it looks like something I won’t enjoy, or I wouldn’t be good at, I won’t apply. A friend said she won’t apply for jobs unless they look amazing. I guess there’s a sense of entitlement that comes through. I think, I’ve worked towards a goal, am achieving that goal, and don’t want to compromise success. And fun work is not necessarily about play – it’s about doing something that’s meaningful, makes you feel valued and doing something you enjoy.
And perhaps doing fun stuff all the time is not sustainable – hence the need for a day job. Does fun become unenjoyable when activities become chores and you find yourself struggling to pay the bills? I expect so. Cate, a crafter and writer, says “The stuff we love to do often becomes a chore when we stop doing it for ourselves eg writing for others without time to write for ourselves.”
I sometimes struggle with performance anxiety – scared of starting (especially when I’m being paid – what if my work is not good enough?!) – and when tiredness sets in, writing can feel like a chore, especially on top of my day job. Sophie, an artist who makes jewellery at That Vintage, says doing what she loves as a career can become a chore. “I take some time out from it (a little “holiday”) and come back when I feel it is right”, she told me. Amelia, writer and artist, sometimes feels this too. “I give myself a break. Start something frivolous. …remember why I love it. Go through old work. Re evaluate”, she says.
There’s also a level of homophily by limiting myself this way. How will I know that I won’t enjoy something until I’ve tried it? Maybe I’m stuck in an echo chamber of fun, cushioned by enjoyment?
And I wonder whether it’s childish of me. Don’t all children only want to do what’s fun? As a child I’d rather be playing than tidying my room – and as an adult, this is still the case. I do put off these not so fun tasks – paying bills online so I don’t see my bank balance, and doing everything else before cleaning my room.
I try to justify my need just to do fun stuff by telling myself life is short and time is precious. I look at my friends who are making art, writing books, styling and photographing clothes and cooking – all creative types, all enjoying what they do and working damn hard too. I am also a creative type. Creativity is fun – it’s like play. And it’s not like I don’t want to work hard – I will work hard, but I most want to work hard doing the things I enjoy.
What do you think?
Do you only want to do the fun stuff?
Will I grow out of this or do you think it’s a Gen Y trait?
And is the desire to only do fun stuff limited to creative fields? Do maths lovers feel this way?