Saturday, 3 January 2015

Hobbies: The Gateway to Self Discovery

A note from Joelle... 
"To be really happy, one ought to have at least one or two hobbies." - Winston Churchill 
Febgirl blog: Hobbies
When we were young children, anything seemed possible with a little bit of faith, trust and pixie dust encouragement. 
At a young age, most of us were encouraged to play an instrument, get creative with art/writing, go outdoors, do a sport or collect something. Anything that took kids away from a TV, computer or games console were considered 'normal' to do after school.
However, these hobbies often fizzle out in the mid-teen years, when teens are more impressionable to their surroundings and gain an interest in what others think of them (speaking from experience!).

A lot of young adults are going through a crisis. A crisis they are blaming and beating themselves up over. A crisis that they think will hinder their job prospects because of a key thing they are lacking: a hobby.
And with the dreaded task of filling out professional CVs before graduation, many are sh*tting their pants about what to put in the 'Hobbies/Other Interests' section. 
At close inspection, that box seems to get larger and larger every time it's glanced at. Its four corners piercing the comfort bubble in their minds and filling the space with dread and a little bit of regret.
They've realised that just having excellent grades isn't enough - employees want exciting people who've gone out and done something that isn't related to their education.
However simply writing 'going out with friends' and 'listening to music' won't be enough to fill the rectangular box of judgement.

I'm not sure about boys, but I noticed that when girls hit a certain age, they are very likely to drop their hobbies, like swimming, gymnastics, collecting, musical instruments, etc. and not replace it with anything as engaging.
It's a stage where being seen to 'do stuff' that isn't glamorous or (involve alcohol, boys, etc.) is considered social suicide by 'everyone else'.

So what's one to do if they find themselves without a hobby? Is is too late to take one up one as an adult? NOPE. I found this site called 'Find Me A Hobby' that might help you find a way to match you with something to suit your character and how much time you have. *this is not a sponsored link - promise!
I asked my twitter pals (between the ages of 15 and 21) if they had any hobbies (outside of blogging). Here's what a handful of them said:

bloggers with other hobbies
It's even got me inspired to check out adult gymnastics!
FACT: Hobbies help strengthen your character and self identity.
You can even discover strengths you didn't know you had. Not to mention they make you more interesting as a person. And during the teen years, this is so important, right?
Without hobbies, it's easy to get a bit lonely after school/college and even be swayed more by your peers to do dodgy things, just purely out of boredom. 
With social media, online celebs and bloggers, who made their hobby into a career, it is easy for teens these days to watch them living their dreams through their hobbies. But instead of getting inspired to go out and chase their dreams, like a lot of the YouTubers encourage, the teens get hooked and prefer to watch other people live out their dreams on YouTube itself. It's a new and complex psychology that I'm really interested in, because this new generation do not see the difference in virtual and real life - it's just one, straight continuum.
That is definitely not always a bad thing, however, there is a cycle (that has been well-documented in journals and articles) where young people without real hobbies spend more time alone on their phones/computers, longing to 'do something amazing' with their lives, as they are inspired by online content creators. But because of a lack of encouragement and confidence, some of their dreams to start something new never materialise.
I see it like this: you can go out and chase your dreams, or choose to just watch other people chase their dreams on YouTube. 

There was this stage when I was at school (aged 13-18) where having a hobby that you were proud of was pretty much the lamest thing ever.
Young girls taking part in football/tennis/Scouts/orienteering was seen as 'butch' or 'weird', and therefore a lot of them stopped and didn't take up anything else because of what their school peers would think.
Another side, of course is the financial side. Not everyone can afford after school clubs/lessons. But it's just as fun to get creative without the £££. The emotional richness you can gain from making something out of nothing (like clothes out of fabric or makeup tutorials from a tiny palette of eye shadow) doesn't compare to anything you'll ever be able to buy!
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If you didn't know already, I am an advanced flautist and semi-precious collect rocks/fossils, which seems really random, but makes perfect sense in my little world!
Until 2012, I played the flute for 10 years, got called names for it and even got my flute stamped on. But I picked my flute back up and passed my Grade 8 with a big ol' dent on the side of my headjoint. 
I kept at it, not because I was good (I was pretty average to be honest), but because I wanted to achieve something. I wanted that feeling of reaching Grade 8 and having the knowledge to really understand Classical and Baroque music. Reading western notation is a language that is so easy to understand if you have the passion and drive.
That dent was a reminder that even though so many people around me thought I was a loser for liking Classical music and performing it with confidence, I won in the end. I completed all my grades and gained so much confidence, which cured my social anxiety.

Even when I totally failed one of my AS Level subjects (so humiliating!), I still managed to get six out of five (yep you read that right!) uni offers due to my personal statement, where I wrote about how my hobbies helped me conquer depression, paranoia and my fear of social humiliation. WOOHOO!
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If you are around the age of 15-18, and have a passion for something outside of school, if it makes you happy, stick to it. For the love of God, please stick to it.
Even if no one 'gets' your love of reading, singing, skiing, blogging, stamp collecting, bird watching... it shouldn't be your problem.
The opinions of your peers and the 'popular' people may mean a lot to you now, but they won't be an important factor in your life beyond the school gates when you leave!
After High School, everyone starts again and the school social hierarchy that once dominated everyone's minds will be dissolved into a pile of nothingness.
But the warm glow you get when you achieve something special is an emotion that you deserve to feel and will feel once you stop caring what others think!
I can only speak for myself, but boy, it's a wonderful feeling!

So if you're reading this and want to start something new in 2015, go for it! If the funds are there for you to pick up an instrument or you have the creativity to start a writing a novel/blog/play - GO FOR IT and don't be afraid to at least try. If you try and find it's not for you, by all means, try something else.
Trying out something new will help clear your mind and take you somewhere you never imagined yourself to go. Not forgetting, filling that dreaded box on your CV in a few years time.
Silence your doubting peers and drown out the voice in your head telling you that what you're doing is dumb. Your self-worth is stronger than peer pressure and bad influencers!
You'd be surprised how much having a hobby will ignite something very special in you! 
And hey, it might just pay your bills one day!
Febgirl blog: Hobbies
I'd love to know your thoughts on hobbies, if you have any or if you're thinking of starting some this year!:)
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