The Art of Being Amateur

Whether we like it or not, we can’t master every single skill we feel passionate about. Especially in an era when the ambitions of people have grown to the level of pursuing global recognition, it may be difficult to swallow that we might never become professional athletes, singers or authors and instead have to settle for less. It seems we have forgotten that amateurism is not only acceptable but also valuable.

The word amateur frequently has a negative ring to it. The word was brought into English from Old French, in which the word signified a “lover”, a person who had a passion or taste for an act. Later on the word developed into an insult, as the passion was sometimes perceived as superficial or the act was practiced with lack of expertise. Furthermore it can also signify a person who does what he does non-profit.

Having that in mind, the history has seen numerous amateurs who have since been renowned for their achievements. William Shakespeare was mocked for his use of blank verse and Charles Darwin never held a position in field of science. Even Anne Frank, imagining she was writing a personal diary, was in fact writing a literature classic. All of these people, who were driven by a passion while some were even running a risk of sacrificing their livelihoods, were amateurs.

Nevertheless, they became famous in a way they would’ve probably never comprehended. Nowadays it is a different story; the visibility having been guaranteed by the internet, the amateurs have risen directly from the local fairs into the World Series in hopes of fame. The increased competition has naturally also affected on the expectations of the audience. While few get thousands of views a day, the rest of us are lucky if we can even attract the attention of a single viewer. Consequently, this has lead to a phenomenal growth of individuals who identify themselves with amateurs.

The problem isn’t as much in the globalization as it is in the mentality of a modern man. Currently there exists an ideal of transforming a hobby into a profession. This encourages people, especially the youth, in pursuing a career as pop stars, artists and sportsmen. The positions in trades being limited and the likelihood of profitability being little, some are eventually forced to give in and quit altogether.

These people have forgotten why they wanted to make a career out of the hobby in the first place: they found pleasure in it. But, after years of competition and stress over further achievement, they ceased to enjoy the activity.

Luckily there are still some of us who, despite the odds, attempt to find more opportunities to indulge our passions. Being fully aware of our (lack of) abilities, we try to avoid being thrown into the wheels of competition with the sole goal of surpassing others. We take pride in calling ourselves amateurs and you are welcome to join us.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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3 thoughts on “The Art of Being Amateur

  1. Good stuff. Technology has definitely made it easier for amateurs to put their stuff out there, and I think that can be both a good and bad thing. I self-published my first two novels just because it was honestly easier than learning how to professionally publish. Looking back on that, I wish it wouldn’t have been so easy. I would have tried harder to learn about the publishing world, and that would have taught me a lot.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that people forget about why they loved their passions/hobbies in the first place; that they enjoyed those activities. That’s important to me because you’re right; a lot of us might never make it to that global renown level we wish to make it to. And this is something I think about a lot too. If I knew I was never going to be famous, would I still write?

    I read the book Start by Jon Acuff and in it there’s a line that goes, “She understood that being awesome is about finding the core of who you are and what lights you up. Once you’ve discovered that, you can have a million different jobs.” And I whole-heartedly agree. I realized finally that my job and my art/passion isn’t related at all; sure, I wish they were, and one day, they might be, but like you said, most of us will not reach that level. But we keep being awesome, and keep pushing, because that’s what defines us. Great read.

    1. Thank you VERY MUCH. I don’t usually advertise myself but it seemed fitting in the situation. I expect (and do not let me down) to read great stuff from you in the future. It’s been a pleasure so far (even if its only been a week).

  2. In the current age the leap from amateur to professional seems to be smaller, and yet there is still a marked line between the two. More people are making the attempt, yet it is still a tricky jump. I think less people fully prepare themselves for the leap.

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