Hobbies & Passions

21 Oct

Today I was reading a post over on The Billfold about hobbies – how much they cost and the value they hold even if you don’t keep up with them. It got me thinking about my own list of spottily-attended-to hobbies and crafts.

I’ve always felt a bit of disappointment when a new hobby doesn’t reveal a hitherto-unknown talent. I keep thinking (hoping) that there has to be something I’m really good at that I just don’t know about yet. I flit from vague interest to slight curiosity and each time am disappointed when I am:

a. not immediately amazing – “my secret, hidden talent is finally revealed!”


b. not enraptured with this new hobby – “finally, I have found my passion!”

Like I just need one or the other. I don’t demand of my hobbies and interests that they all be stuff I’m good at – but just once I’d like to find something I just can’t get enough of. Yet nothing seems to be able to hold my attention. Up til now I’ve always taken that as a failure of sorts. But the post mentioned above helped me to re-frame these investments of time, energy, and actual cash money as valuable in and of themselves, regardless of outcome.

It is valuable to have something that helps you kill an hour here or there, even if you’re not particularly good at it, even if you don’t want to do it all the time.

It’s valuable to have something to do that isn’t watching TV – something to do that pushes you out of your comfort zone and works creative muscles that are otherwise threatening to atrophy.

It’s valuable, even, to give your mind the room to wander while you attend to something with your hands that isn’t particularly demanding.

For all the times I have wished for a hobby or interest that was all-consuming, I now find myself content with those that have consumed me for even 30 minutes at a time.

Passion has always been a tricky beast for me. I’ve lamented not seeming to have it in any area of my life while I watched my peers consumed and compelled by their own. I have amazing friends and acquaintances who are, among other things, professional filmmakers, ceramists, actors, musicians, activists, stylists. I have an even greater number of friends who are social workers, teachers, baristas, administrative assistants – but who doggedly pursue outside interests in their time away from their “day jobs”.

Part of it is perception, right? Like maybe what I am taking to be this huge passion for another person is just something they do often. I cook all the time and I do like to cook, but I would never say that cooking is a passion of mine. There’s a distinction for me between “stuff I enjoy” or “stuff I do a lot” and “stuff I feel passionate about”. I think what I’m learning is that it’s okay to just have stuff you enjoy doing that fills the time. Not having a passion doesn’t equal not being interesting or worthy, in much the same way that having a passion doesn’t necessarily make you interesting or worthy  – it just means you’re obsessed.

I guess I’ve always longed to be obsessed, consumed, enraptured, engrossed, immersed – by something, anything. But I’ve landed in a place where I think it’s okay to just be occupied, engaged, distracted, and amused instead.

Now if I only I could translate the same kind of thinking that I’ve managed to do about my hobbies to my professional life…


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