06 September 2013

I don't want to spend time doing stuff that is not fun.

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?



  1. I'm all about the FUN and the INTERESTING! And creativity is your RIGHT. You don't need to justify it. Rather, you need to make sure you prioritise it! YES - make time for creativity but NO- don't forget that to be creative you have to have a degree of calm in your life (so keep a handle on the mundane but important too - like the bills! - It all has its place and teaches us stuff!!!)

    1. Love this - a degree of calm :) thank you for your comment And for all you do x

  2. Hey Carly, thanks for the mention!

    Gosh our brains on the same track - I've been having pretty similar thoughts. Are you familiar with psychologist, Csikszentmihalyi's concept of working in "flow" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology) ? That when you're fully interested in something, you are become fully absorbed and can lose yourself in it for hours on end?

    I'm going through the process of working out when I'm in flow. I'm pushing myself to try things that I've been scared of. Hence me getting back into styling photoshoots - even if it's just practice right now. And I'm getting way more involved in Problogger than I thought I would. Because ultimately I know that these are great things that will bring me into contact with great thinkers and do-ers who will inspire me to grow in the direction, that right now, I can only begin to allow myself to dream of.

    Also have you read Seth Godin's book, The Icarus Deception? About how society's conditioned us to be too afraid to fly high like in the myth? We also need to remember the other warning from the story - that if we fly too low, the salt water from the sea would ruin the gifted wings, causing the feathers to come away from the wings and leading to a death by drowning. You are a beautiful writer, Carly. Don't fly too low!

    1. Thank you Cheryl :) I love your drive and passion :) I think we are in similar situations with taking the leap!
      Ans thank you for the book recommendations. Might see if I can get them while in holidays.
      You're so right - a certain way of thinking and being in the company of those whose thoughts and actions you admire can really help you with your own path.
      Tht message by Seth Godin is amazing. Just wow. Thank you. I needed to read this quote today.

  3. I think it's very gen Y to feel this way (and I don't mean that in a patronizing way). There needs to be a balance between doing fun stuff and doing work that pays the bills. Not all of us have the option of working in our field of passion. Having said that, I LOVE what I do, but it's taken years of hard work to reach a point where my passions pay the bills (but I still have to do things I don't enjoy).

    I'veI work with a lot of incredibly talented, creative Gen Ys who often feel they should start in established roles. What happened to starting at the bottom & building your way up to reach the 'fun' stage?

  4. Hey Kim thanks for your comment :) I am a Gen Y and feel that in my day job I've started at entry level (it's the public service, that's how it works) and have also definitely worked my way up in my creative job. It has been hard work :)

    1. I should clarify, that last paragraph was about Gen Ys I've worked with, not you :)

  5. To love what you do.. and to feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?!


Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I really appreciate the time you've taken to write to me, and to share something about yourself.


Related Posts with Thumbnails