To be sincere and to have passion.
If there’s one thing that I sincerely yearn to see more of in my life, it’s people that openly and excitedly talk about things close to their heart. I think there’s no easier way to become a person who is genuinely interesting than to be genuinely interested in something.
When somebody has an avocation that they pursue for its own sake — when there’s no pride or arrogance — I could sit for hours listening and learning about it and them. Even, and almost especially, when it’s something that I previously thought mundane or hadn’t even thought about at all.
And I feel so lucky to stumble upon this kind of person because they seem like a rarity. I think I can understand why, though. There are a number of reasons, both societal and personal, that make the hobbyist surprisingly elusive.
“Follow Your Passion” is a mantra that’s too-often spoken and seldom acted upon. It’s a bad idea — if not a dangerous one — to be chanting this to both ourselves and our youth. It’s far too easy to become anxious over the pressure of trying to not only find what exactly your ‘passion’ is, but then to somehow jump through the hoops to make it your career.
The regrettable result of this is that we submit to the pressure. If we aren’t able to reach the difficult goal and end up working elsewhere — heaven forbid corporate — there’s an unneeded sense of failure that’s created. We succumb to the expectations of those around us instead of our own.
In addition to this, once you find yourself actually having downtime, it’s used poorly instead. We spend our time in front of screens, consuming — whether it’s media, or sports, or our friend’s lives. It can be tempting to think of these as healthy pastimes, but they aren’t. They can be a nice wind-down from the work we don’t really enjoy, but you are instead witnessing the work of others instead of creating something for yourself.
And then there’s sleep, too. From the exhaustion of the 9-to-5 that we oblige in order to pay the bills. It can feel as though we simply don’t have the time or the energy to actually maintain a hobby.
We can roll our eyes at time management, or doubt ourselves from following through, or honestly just be a bit afraid of beginning new things, but it’s more than possible to start small. Allocating a few hours every week can be enough to start developing a new skill.
But if you manage to get far enough to find your passion, you’re only halfway there if you keep it hidden from the world. It’s understandable too, though. A harsh truth is that people too often reserve themselves, using self-deprecating humor as a way to distance themselves from others.
Sarcasm and irony are used to deflect the idea of being honest and sincere. We would rather have people think poorly about a false version of ourselves than know what they actually think about who we are. Parody can only go so far, though, as it needs an original to mock in the first place.
That isn’t the only reason we find ourselves from having difficulties about being open about our affections. In childhood we might find ourselves teased or ignored when we divulge our interests without reserve — or even worse, in adulthood.
Such a negative response is also rooted in insincerity. Those who laugh at passionate people are the ones who lack passion themselves. It’s far easier to justify fears by sticking in the comfort zone of mockery, instead of trying things out.
The obvious answer to this is to not interact with these sort of people — to cut them out of your life. But that’s easier said than done. It’s more practical to, instead, try to find others that are unafraid to talk about what they love. There are the added benefits of having something to already bond over, as well as opportunities to collaborate.
Hobbies take place in the cellar and smell of airplane glue.
— John Updike