Professional hobbyist (snob?) teachers



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Your hobby as your job

They say that if you work on something that you had as a hobby then you will not need to work a day in your life. It is advice that I fully support since I did myself follow it. My profession as a software engineer started as a hobby back when I was in school programming different software from small games to record-keeping software for my father to organize stuff in his office.

I still remember today my enthusiasm when I was starting a new project, the satisfaction from testing it, and seeing my little programs work. I did for example program a TicTacToe and a MasterMind game and I would spend hours trying them playing to see how well they worked. I was even more fascinated when my father asked me to create a couple of small projects for his work. He wanted a software to keep some kind of tracking on employees and leaves of absence and another to remind him of birthdays, name-days, and other important events of the day. I was so excited that somebody else would use my “creation” and I got so much reward when I got the first positive feedback (even if it was coming from my father… not the most objective judge).

Your job as your hobby

My biggest realization that my work is not a hobby anymore came during the pandemic. In the first weeks, I thought that I could revive an old personal project idea for a mobile game. I sat down, organized myself, and started looking into my old code trying to get it moving. I think it lasted a couple of weeks. I then realized that I was doing the same thing the whole day. I needed to do something different as a hobby. I couldn’t have my job as a hobby anymore.

As I said, I realized that my job is not my hobby anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I am still passionate about programming and I get thrilled when I manage to solve a difficult challenge at work. In most cases, I agree that work doesn’t feel like work. But then again… I get paid to do it. I get promoted, and I get some other additional rewards that are missing from doing it as a hobby. I mean nobody is going to pay me for the time I will spend to build the game and if it manages to make money it is in the long run… very long run. So although my work doesn’t feel like work… programming as a hobby feels a lot like work!

I might still do small projects, and use my skills in other areas like in this blog here but this is not the same as work. There is a different goal behind those projects and some personal motivation. They make my life easier or they help me express my thoughts and ideas. So I will now get bored in a discussion if you ask me which computer to buy but if you ask me how AI will maybe affect your job… my job etc. it will trigger an interesting conversation. There is a different purpose behind such a discussion. It won’t feel like work.

The problem

In a previous post, I was writing about the teachers who have their skin in the game. Teachers who are not afraid to dance with their students because they trust their work. On the other side of it sits a category of teachers who are not dancing much or even not at all in a milonga. I often asked myself why? Why wouldn’t you want to get rewarded by your students by dancing with them? What better reward can you have as a teacher? The abandoned mobile game that was never revived gave me the answer.

It is very rewarding and bliss to work on something that started as a hobby. However, from the time your hobby becomes your full-time job, you get paid for it and you make a living it is getting harder and harder to see it again as a hobby. Therefore it is harder and harder for teachers who teach years to dance socially in a milonga. Most of them started teaching because Tango was their hobby. Slowly it evolved into a profession, a job, a way of making money and living out of it. This is when the hobby stopped being a hobby and became a job. This is probably when they started dancing less and less in milongas.

It doesn’t mean they are bad teachers because of that. Quite the opposite… Oftentimes they are the best. It doesn’t mean they are arrogant or snob when they come into a milonga. You have to understand that they try to have fun doing something that they were doing probably all day for many years now. It’s not easy. The friction brings fatigue and it is inevitable that they will feel this way. If you sit and have a chat with them, I am sure they could tell you stories that you could never imagine… and if you happen to see them dancing socially… just sit and enjoy.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is called Casas viejas… Old houses. Because that’s what those teachers remind me. Old houses that may look tired from the passing of time… but which carry so many stories and if you explore them you can find hidden treasures. Admire them, respect them, and pay close attention to them… they are invaluable.

How about you? Have you encountered such teachers? What is your opinion of them? Have you ever thought about how they feel in a milonga? How do you feel about them? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.


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