I wrote a post about labels this month, and my first way keep labels from working against you was to mix them up, because we’re individuals and our labels shouldn’t read them same as everyone else’s. The truth is I feel like a lot of people generify themselves so they can fit into a nice little package, whether they’re chasing a brand, an aesthetic, or simply want to be more liked.
I’ve noticed that a lot of my hobbies and loves let me fit into a neat little package, then when people get to know me they’re knocked off their feet by one of my more obscure fascinations or hobbies, not because they’re that rare, but because they never would have placed them with me. They only had a surface level reading of me and there’s always much more going on under the surface. We’re all like this, none of this new.
But what is a newer trend is collectivism, wanting to fit into to a certain group seamlessly and having all of our friends match us in hobbies and ideals. Okay, maybe that isn’t new either, but it’s growing and growing fast. I blame the internet for this, and I blame peoples insistence that you need to pick a side on everything from hobbies to politics to which TV show reigns supreme. You’ve heard of the sinking middle class, but what about the sinking middle ground? When we don’t have middle ground we tend to jump to one side as quickly as possible and leave all the stuff across the line to stay hidden or simply rot out of existence. It’s bad. That other stuff is just as important to who you are.
I hear people say “I lost interest in volleyball because I threw myself into art school and all that goes with it.” or “I lost interest in romance novels because I got my English degree and moved on to “high-brow” literature.”
It’s a common thing. Ask your friends why they dropped things they loved. Ask yourself why you stopped doing that hobby you loved three years ago. We all have our reasons, but I bet most of us didn’t spend a lot of time reviewing those reasons. If we were to, would we still think of them as legitimate enough to have dropped something we loved?
People get absorbed into things, I understand this, obviously you’re friends were all interested in art at art school, you were surrounded by it all the time, of course it nurtured that interest while volleyball got pushed to the back. But one of the problems with keeping all your interests and hobbies in the same category, in the same stereotype, or aesthetic, is that eventually you’ll get burned out.
You’ll find yourself longing for something but not quite knowing what. You’ll find yourself stuck in a cycle, replacing friends with friends of the exact same type. You’ll try to add on hobbies without branching back out to other types of activities, and more than anything, you won’t find the change of pace you need. Diversity in activity and interests is what keep you feeling alive and full of enthusiasm. It’s what helps your brain grow and expand. The worlds genius dabbled in other things, for example, Einstein was a talented violinist, he said that perhaps in another life he would have chosen to make music his calling. He didn’t, but he still loved it and worked hard at it. It probably made him a smarter man, because it’s been proven that taking breaks from your main focus helps you be better at it. It’s also proven that people tend to have epiphanies about a subject when doing something completely unrelated.
It’s also true that the people you meet when enjoying things outside your group tend to have a huge influence on your life. If you’re hanging out with people who share the same ideas and hobbies as you you’re never going to hear different opinions, you’re never going to see things through a different lens. You could probably learn a lot from your volleyball friends on complex strategy and teamwork, while you could probably learn a lot from your artist friends on creativity and emotion.
If you want to be a complete person you have to pull from different sources. It’s the reason we aren’t all walking stereotypes. It’s the reason you can’t know someone just by knowing who they hang out with. We have so much more dimension then we sometimes allow ourselves to pursue. You’re more complex than you know you are now, it’s why we so often find ourselves having the time of our lives when we throw ourselves into a completely different hobby than our norm.
You might be more of an artist than an athlete, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also be an athlete. You might be more of a scientist than a musician, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a wonderful musician.
Don’t box yourself in, you deserve better than that, you deserve to have as many dimensions as you can possible have. You deserve to be a full person, not an idea of one that can be defined in a few sentences.