Why try things?
When was the last time you thought about what your hobbies are? I’m well into my thirties, and astonished to find myself exploring this question for the first time…and honestly, I’m a little embarrassed that the answer comes up so short.
Growing up, ‘hobbies’ were not a thing in my household. I’m the youngest of four kids raised by a single parent, so there wasn’t any extra money for things like sports, piano lessons, and other extracurriculars. More than that, there wasn’t a mindset for nurturing personal interests; I never recall being asked about what I liked or how I wanted to spend my time. In my father’s eyes, kids existed to serve the needs of the family (doing chores, helping with home renovations, etc.) and any spare time should be devoted to excelling at school. Consequently, I grew up thinking what I wanted in life was irrelevant.
Hobbies have been an unsuccessful and half-hearted endeavour for me over the years; I learned barely enough piano to be able to accompany myself while I sing, and there was a short-lived foray into embroidery last summer, but still…every time I try to pick up an activity ‘just for fun’, I struggle to find the meaning. I am by no means an idler in other areas of my life; I pushed myself at school and obtained a Master’s degree, and I consider myself quite driven and ambitious at work. I am only afflicted with aimlessness in my spare time, where my performance doesn’t matter to others.
It was this afternoon, under the heat of the sun while laying on a picnic blanket with my partner, that I had an epiphany: my childhood stunted my ability to pursue things simply for the joy of discovery. I have internalized a belief that what I do only matters when it matters for others (i.e. when I am paid for it). This is a problem, because at work there is very little room for failure — meaning that every time I try something new, it becomes fraught with perfectionism and fear.
But here’s the thing: I don’t want that kind of life for myself. I want a life where new things aren’t stressful and high-stakes, and where days off don’t lead to bewilderment and anxiety over what I’m doing. I think the key to getting there is to acquaint myself with *trying things*, to give myself permission to learn without motive and to experience how awkward yet satisfying it can be to see my own development before my very eyes.
So I’m going to do just that…want to come along?