I remember how I used to spend my childhood summer vacations moping around the house. “I’m booooooored!” I’d moan daily.
“Go outside. Find a new hobby!” my mom would urge. To which I’d roll my eyes and find some way to kill time before we were allowed to turn on the TV in the evening. What’s a girl to do when she’s not quite old enough to drive or work a part-time job, doesn’t yet have internet access, and lives quite literally in the woods of a tiny town in Connecticut?
Truth be told, I wasn’t bored; I was restless. I participated in seasonal sports like softball and basketball and took swim class at the YMCA on Saturday mornings. I read more books before the age of 16 than I likely will for the rest of my life. I kept one of those diaries with the pages pre-dated, which compelled me to write every damn day even when I had nothing to say. I bought PennyPress Variety Puzzle magazines with my allowance money and devoured all the cryptograms and logic problems in them. I joined the school band, I took piano lessons.
I kept myself busy in my pre-teen years doing all these things I had varying degrees of interest in, and they’ve equipped me as an adult with all sorts of strengths. I have broad shoulders and strong thighs, can perfectly match pitch, and I suppose I’m not half-bad at writing (*ahem*). But what exactly am I supposed to do with my talents? I’ve never known.
I’ve followed a similar pattern these past 6+ years of living in New York City, dabbling in a myriad of extracurriculars just as I did when I was a child. I photograph weddings and events professionally part-time. I spend every chance I get exploring this city and traveling the world. I write for this here travel blog. I bike, I rock climb, I crossfit.
Unlike my early days, when I pursued many activities out of obligation or for lack of anything better to do, my hobby collection now grows organically. I do what I want – what makes me happy – rather than what external forces tell me I should do. When something stops bringing me joy, I stop doing it. And when I try something new and end up loving it, I roll with it. I’m living deliberately, constantly adjusting my course in order to maximize happiness.
My life is filled with carefully-curated pastimes that make me happy and allow me to grow. I have too many hobbies and not nearly enough time to fully pursue them all. And while they all make me happy in the moment, there is still an undercurrent of restlessness that pulses through me. What am I doing it all for? Is it enough to just do what makes me happy, or should I be striving for some sort of end goal?
In truth – I’m happy, but not fulfilled. Instead of focusing on one passion and seeing it all the way through to excellence, I float aimlessly from one fun activity to the next. I normally tout quality over quantity, but here I am doing the opposite – more akin to a Jane Of All Trades and master of none.
I don’t have any major goals that I’m working toward. That’s in part because I’ve never known what I wanted to do or be in my life. Call me a hippie, but I always figured that one of my many hobbies would magically take off into a career path or my life’s calling – that one of these days, I’d just know I was meant to focus on this one passion and aim to shine in it.
Admittedly, it’s also due to my fear of commitment that I haven’t just picked one of the things I love and gone after it. What if I invest so much time and energy into this one thing, only to meet the day where it stops making me happy? I know I’m allowed to change my mind, but how many times can I break a commitment? If there’s anything I’m vehemently against, it’s flaking – and I’m not about to flake on my goals.
In the meantime, I’ll keep chasing my happiness. I’m really enjoying crossfit so far, two weeks in. I also just got accepted to BlogHouse, a 4-day retreat in Chicago this June where I get to hang in a house with 13 other newbie bloggers and learn from some super successful travel bloggers.
I may not know what my goals are yet, but this I know: I want to keep learning and growing and trying new things.