Hobby, Job or Something in Between?

Balancing work life with hobbies is always a challenging task. Especially when you enjoy your work. I would say that a hobby becomes a job if you are able to do it professionally – meaning that you are able to earn a significant income from it. In such scenarios I feel that what you’re doing lies somewhere in between a hobby and a job. I see research as a one such scenario – a hobby that we are able to do professionally. I believe a lot of us would still love to observe, hypothesize and experiment if we had access to a lab in our homes.

What makes being in this position great is that I have a strong sense of the work I do being mine. There is something personal about it. This is particularly emphasized in research since what you accomplish has your name on it and is globally accessible by anyone. We all work on very specific topics, even within the same work group, that we deeply care about not for our supervisors, project, or university but for ourselves – because we want to explain it to ourselves first.

With that being said, we still have the “weight” of responsibilities towards our employer, the university. And that’s not necessarily bad thing. But amidst the mundane nature of routine, one should often remind themselves of why they’re doing this in the first place and exercise prudence in balancing work life. Because you don’t want to be taking work back home… even if it’s fun work… well mostly it’s fun in a frustrating kind of way.

We’re doing something full time that we possibly would have been doing during our free time; so the question is now what do we do with our free time? I would say continue those other hobbies and maybe one day you will have a new “job”.

Dwayne Stephens, University of Göttingen