I have been a reader all my life. A real reader. One who almost prefers reading a good book to going out with friends. One who stays up until 5A.M. to finish my book. Yes, I’ve always been a reader – in a family of non-readers.
Some people think reading is suuper-boring, or at the risk of sounding like a 13-year-old, lame. Just like some people think, I don’t know, Dungeons and Dragons is lame. But the thing that lamest to me, is not having a passion at all.
It’s easy to look at someone’s unusual passion and have a giggle, or judge them a bit. Personally, I don’t see the appeal in model trains, but you know what’s really cool? Being passionate about model trains! If I’m chatting to someone at a dinner party, and they’re raving about this mountain they climbed the last weekend past, or they’re excited about the newly launched James Webb space telescope… I just love that. I love when people are passionate about things. Am I a mountaineer? Not at all, but I want to hear all about how you are, and how it makes you feel, and why you do it. Why is it cool to you? Why does it make you happy?
Recently there was an Instagram thread going around asking, “What can you talk about for 30 minutes without preparation?”
It made me think – having a passion is so amazing, because not everybody has one. One of my dad’s common refrains is, “You have to have a purpose in life,” whether that be a job or a passion or a calling – you have to do something with your life, and ideally, love to do it. Whether it’s coming home from your job and curling up with a good book, or going to your job as a windmill engineer trying to convert the planet to sustainable energy practices, or joining your local field hockey team.
The world goes round because people are excited about things. Nobody changes the world by hating what they do and putting in the bare minimum. Lives are changed by people being passionate, whether by discovering something new, practising something until you’re good at it (or not! It’s okay to be mediocre at things, so long as you’re having fun), or inspiring others to do the same thing.
It’s so important to put all your energy into something, and put all your energy into something because you want to. Because it excites you when you do! Your job doesn’t have to be your whole life (and if you have a job that is your passion, then you’re doing life right and you’re a lucky bloke), but you have to put time into hobbies. Maybe not to change the world, fine, but to make your life more enjoyable – for to make your life more enjoyable – for you.
Hobbies are severely underrated considering the time and effort that are put into them. Not only a good thing for your health and stress levels, but sometimes it also genuinely affects the world around you. For example, many important scientific discoveries have been made by amateur hobbyists, such as Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics. Charles Darwin completely ignored Mendel’s lecture because he was an amateur, but Mendel’s work answered many questions that Darwin had, if only he’d listened to a hobbyist.
On the other end of the spectrum, E.L. James, the author of the Fifty Shades of Grey saga, was so passionate about Twilight and Edward Cullen that she wrote fanfiction in her spare time, which became the multi-million-dollar novel and film series that we know and love (and giggle at when Christian Grey sings in the third movie) today. Once upon a time, some might have snickered at the 47-year-old who wrote fanfiction about Edward Cullen in her spare time. Now, an established author, I bet you they’re not snickering so much.
The point is – they shouldn’t have been in the first place. Be proud of what you like to do, and don’t judge others for what they enjoy doing either. The world is such a varied and diverse place because everybody likes different things.
Most people have their day job and keep their passion as a side hustle. One of my old work colleagues gave me a great piece of advice, to “work your passion as your side hustle, until you’re successful enough in it that it can become your full-time job.” Shout out to Grace Richmond, a great stylist and a great amount of fun.
If you don’t have a hobby, and you’re finding this piece very alienating – don’t stress! You have so much fun ahead of you! You know why? Because you just haven’t found your passion yet, and you’re going to have the best times of your life trying new things and meeting new people. Need some hints? Pottery! Astronomy! Model trains! Painting! Creative writing! Tennis! Golf! Go-karting! Wine tasting! Cheese making! Pole dancing! Bird watching! The list is endless, and if you need a partner, I have always wanted to try at least half of these things. I have my passions, but luckily for us, there isn’t a quota on your interests. You can always discover new things to love.
As for me, I’m rediscovering my love for horse-riding (although my trotting rhythm is all out of wack, and I’m quite terrible). If anyone is keen to try their hand at making pottery, or actually trying anything new, I’ll be very happy to join you. Let’s have a romantic afternoon together, discovering new passions, or, if you’ve done it before, stoking old flames. Let’s enjoy ourselves, because we can.