The Fandom/Work Barrier

"You're so good at art – why aren't you doing the company newsletter?"

"You write all that fanfic – why aren't you writing anything for the magazine?"

"You're so good at organizing that convention – why is your code always late?"

Ever heard anything like this?  Those bizarre – but real – moments where people note that somehow when it comes to your hobbies and fandom you're better at something than you are at work?  Or perhaps you have these skills you just aren't applying to your career?

You probably have at least once.  I know people that have experienced this "you-can-but-why-don't-you" experience.  Sometimes its from fellow fans, sometimes co-workers, but always the same thing.

"You are good at this there, why not here?"

There's several reasons:

  • Sometimes we really don't think about it.  We get too used to dividing our lives up into hobbies and work we never think what can transfer.
  • Different situations.  Sure we may be able to churn out fanart at home, with the radio blasting, but we're not used to doing it in our cubicle.  It's a situational thing that we may miss.  Anyone that can only write under some circumstances knows what that's like.
  • Different language.  We may literally not be able to translate what we do in our hobbies to other areas because of our inability to communicate it.  Sure you'd like to use your art skills to do that new advertising, but can you explain "Bishounen" to the head of advertising without freaking her out?
  • * Different authorities.  It's easy to get your cosplay group to pull off a 12-person costume as you're in charge.  It's not so easy to get 12 people in your office do plan the company picnic when you're not the boss.

I'm all for applying our hobbies to our careers – that's kind of the point of everything here – but there are barriers to such endeavors.  Hopefully this lets you see them – so next time you get those inevitable questions, you can explain the situation to people.

– Steven Savage