Two “careers” I’ve managed to stick with for more than a year are “writer” and “student” (which often follow the words “poor” and “starving” I’ve observed). The thing that trips up most people who know my writing is I’m not studying a writing subject. My studies are related to sports science and nutritional science, which, I admit is a bit random for a non-athlete writer. But I love learning how the body works and how to stay healthy naturally. I sometimes think of school as my hobby because I’m just here to learn more about things I find interesting. That’s something I really believe in: pursuing interests, not just careers.
As we grow up, if we’re lucky we’re told we can do anything. In the same breath we’re told we can’t do everything. At some point we’re expected to focus on one career and stick with it. All other interests are then downgraded to “hobbies” that eventually get thrown by the wayside.
My question is why? Why must we choose? Why must we pigeonhole ourselves? Who says we have to only do one thing at a time? Why can’t the doctor also be an MC, the computer scientist also be a poet? Why can’t the MBA student also be a human rights activist or the math teacher also be a film maker? These “hobbies” are important because they challenge you to think differently, act differently, see a different aspect of yourself. The danger of being too “focused” is you can become an automaton. You may start to define yourself by that one thing you do. Your life and thoughts become routine and what you do becomes who you are. Then you find yourself disillusioned with life and wondering who stole your mojo.
By pursuing several interests you keep yourself sharp and refreshed. You switch thinking and exercise different muscles, so to speak. Yes pursuing other interests takes time, but so does watching t.v. and playing videogames, which many people spend a lot of their life doing. We think we need these sort of mind-numbing activities to help us unwind and relax, but changing pace, actively pursuing something you enjoy is even more renewing than vegetating in front of a screen.
Our minds are marvels of nature, capable of learning so much and our creative potential is infinite. We let all that potential fall by the wayside when we limit ourselves. So let’s stop pigeonholing ourselves and others. Let your creativity flow. Play with those dormant interests and hobbies again. How about we throw some more irons in the fire and watch the sparks fly.
(Photo by Kelene Blake. Another interest: "picture taking")