Burnout alert - you really shouldn't feel any pressure to turn your hobby into a side hustle

Pic by Jana Heyns
Pic by Jana Heyns
Jana Heyns

I was at the airport a few weeks ago for a press trip, travelling with a group of media, celebrities and influencers.

As we introduced each other, suddenly there seemed to form a pattern of people exchanging verbal business cards, wearing many hats, or what's come to be known as a slasher.

READ MORE: What are "slashers"- and how are they earning up to R200k extra a year?

Everyone seemingly has or is encouraged to have at least one side hustle. Great at braiding hair or finding the best wigs? Start a mobile hair salon. Love music and can spin a few tracks? Become a part-time DJ. Know beauty like the back of your hand? Start a vlog or become an influencer.

You already have a day job that keeps you busy beyond the 9 to 5 but it doesn't pay as well as you'd like, so it's the perfect opportunity to pick up a secondary income. Right?

I'm sure you've read all the articles on changing work conditions that point out that employment trends mean that everyone's going to work many jobs in their lifetime consecutively and concurrently. 

You don't have to monetise your joy.
Molly Conway

Many South Africans already work two jobs to make ends meet according to an article in MoneyWeb. A survey was conducted showing that more than one in three people earn an extra income from a second job.

What else can you do when your income doesn't match your expenses?

Except it's slightly different when you're chasing a lifestyle where you can drink champagne all weekend or that you're struggling to pay off your studies or buy your kids their school uniforms.

Whatever the reason (which is always your personal choice) it's dismaying to think that beyond wanting to explore different sides of your creativity or passions, that your primary income just doesn't seem to be enough anymore.

Monetarily or creatively.

READ MORE: When your friends earn more than you

I loved the sentiments, though alarming reminders in this I-D/Vice piece, which explored what your side hustle is really costing you.

It starts, "It’s not enough to simply hustle anymore: now you have to side hustle, too. We don’t get up, we ‘rise and grind’; we follow Instagram accounts with names like ‘Motivation Mafia’ and ‘Achieve the Impossible’, hit like on posts exhorting us to push through the pain, keep our eyes on the prize. We boast of how many hours we worked compared to how few we slept; we answer emails at 8pm, 9pm, 10. Burnout becomes almost a status symbol."

Yep, burnout and busy have both become the ultimate status symbols.

Imagine that you have your evenings free. Shouldn't you be filling them with more networking opportunities and training courses to turn your hobby into that side hustle. What are you doing with all that free time?

And no money to spend?

READ MORE: 5 ways to make money by doing virtually nothing

Even Netflix won't let you chill with their programmes about how to turn your home into an Instant Hotel or Shark Tank your way into a new business.

Can we just live?

This is what psychoanalyst Josh Cohen had to say about it in the I-D piece: "Having a side project you care about isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course. But problems arise when it’s expected of you. 'It becomes tacitly coercive,' Cohen says. 'And it becomes anxiety inducing. It's secret function seems to be to make people feel excluded or inadequate if they don't have a side hustle.'"

Josh's book Not Working, explores why we have to stop this approach to life which also spills over to our personal lives too. Or at least re-evaluate the impact of a busy life.

Another recent article in ManRepeller echoes the sentiments. Its title? The modern trap of turning hobbies into hustles.

One of my favourite lines is a real quotable quote from Adam J. Kurtz who's written Things are what you make of them: “Do what you love and (you’ll never work a day in your life -- deleted) work super f***ng hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.”

Because how many times have we been told to follow our dreams etc. Now I'm not saying that every side hustle is or has to be stressful and there can come great joy from earning an extra income from something you love doing. It's just that when all the kids in the yard and Instagram are doing it, the pressure valve can feel like it's getting tightened.

How I also loved this line from the same article:

"You don't have to monetise your joy."

Didn't you also just let out a big sigh of relief?

* Disclaimer: I'm a fan of the side hustle, as long as I get to dip in and out whenever I feel any heartburn building...

Do you have a side hustle you'd like to share with us and whether you love it or it's brought you less joy than you anticipated? Chat to us here.

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