Everyone has guilty pleasures – a hobby, food, music genre, or movie that they can’t get enough of. Many people are embarrassed by their guilty pleasures, either from a feeling of selfishness or the fear of rejection from others. While these feelings may be part of the thrill of your particular indulgences, you may be better off embracing your guilty pleasures as an essential part of your life.
Why We Feel Guilty
If you’ve ever hidden a hobby from your friends, family, or coworkers out of a sense of guilt, you’re not alone. Almost everyone has, at one time, felt self-conscious about their guilty pleasures. Noah Berlatsky, a journalist for The Atlantic, calls this feeling of guilt a form of “social control.” According to Berlatsky, “‘wrong’ pleasures are a way to identify the wrong people.” Berlatsky argues that hobbies associated with marginalised groups are the first to be denigrated by broader society.
Admitting your guilty pleasures in public means risking judgment, but ignoring the critics can free you from negative feelings of guilt. If you put the opinions of others before your own enjoyment, you could perpetuate the guilty feeling of avoiding the scorn of others. If the people around you are judgmental about your hobby, it might be time for a new crowd.
On the flip side, committing yourself wholeheartedly to the things you love, regardless of what others may think or say, will help you feel better about yourself and build confidence in who you are and what you want out of life. If feeling guilty because you like something is unhealthy, being proud to love it makes you even stronger.
Find Your People
If you enjoy something, there’s almost certainly a crowd of like-minded people who enjoy that thing just as much as you do. Finding your crowd is a great way to release yourself from the stigma around your hobby. Social media sites like Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram have burgeoning communities around everything from boatbuilding to Harry Potter.
Once you’ve found your community, you might find that your overall enjoyment of your guilty pleasure increases dramatically. Sharing your hobby with others is a great way to find new things that inspire your passion. And of course, that sense of community you’ll build will help you find validation and meaningful relationships you might not ever find if you just try to stick to the status quo.
Relax and Unwind
A guilty pleasure is your release valve for tension, stress, and the burdens of daily life. Relinquishing the guilt from your pleasures can help you fully immerse yourself in this essential process of unwinding and relaxing. Even “lowbrow” pleasures like watching reality TV and writing fan fiction can be sacred parts of your routine.
Create space in your life for your guilty pleasures, and it could pay off dividends in your mental well-being and overall mental health. Find the little pockets of the internet where cool behind-the-scenes stories are being told. Sign up to start sharing your fan fiction with others. Join a forum to talk about your favourite topics with other like-minded fans. That feeling of freedom will make your “me time” all the more satisfying.
It’s so easy to fall into a routine in day-to-day life, and finding inspiration in the daily grind often proves challenging. There’s a reason we find our guilty pleasures appealing, and if we focus in and identify what makes us want to pour our time and energy into them, we can take those parts and draw inspiration to carry with us into our jobs, relationships, and other hobbies.
Running from a guilty pleasure may be less beneficial than embracing those aspects of your personality. Your indulgences are part of who you are – embrace them, and you might find your friends following in your footsteps!
Women Love Tech would like to thank Alex Haslam for this article.