Although it may not seem like it, I have a lot of hobbies. I read. I write. I play video games. I watch the occasional show on Netflix or (very rarely) TV. Plus all the stuff I do as part of the SCA: heavy fighting, fencing, archery, costuming, camping, et cetera. I have all these things calling out for a small fraction of my free time, and that’s without taking into account working for a living and the basic upkeep required to live like a proper human being.
I bring this all up because I’ve had something of an epiphany lately. In the past, I would look around at other people in my life, be they family or friends, coworker or acquaintances, and reflexively start comparing my accomplishments to theirs. I would look at friends who seem to do a bunch more with their time, who seem to be much more accomplished than I’ve managed to be. Whether I’ve wanted to or not, I’ve been worried about keeping up with the metaphorical Joneses.
This has been exacerbated throughout the years in that I’ve often surrounded myself with friends and other people that are older than me. Sure, age differences matter less and less as you age, but after a certain point you can’t get past the fact that more time means more done. I tend to forget this, much to my detriment.
But I’m getting sidetracked from the point I wanted to make. And that’s this: sure, I may not be as “productive” (whatever that actually means is left as an exercise to the reader) as some of my friends. But while we may have some hobbies and interests that overlap, I don’t know what else they have going on in their life. I don’t know if they’re focusing exclusively on one activity above all others. I don’t know if they’re using skills that just come naturally to them. I don’t know, and I can’t know.
But I do know this: I have a lot of interests, a lot of things that make me happy. I shouldn’t feel guilty spending time doing something that I don’t see my friends doing. And since there’s a finite amount of time during the day, of course I’m going to have to invest less time in each activity if I want to keep up with them all.
I suppose that this is yet another way of me coming to terms with the fact that yes, it’s okay to play video games. Growing up, my video game time was limited; like I’ve said before, I don’t begrudge that. But there was still a background opinion that video games didn’t have many redeeming qualities, that playing them was just a way to pass the time. It was never outright stated, but somehow I ended up internalizing this philosophy. And I’d really like to move past that. I’m tired of feeling guilty about enjoying my time with video games. I don’t like the fact that it makes me feel like I’ve wasted time. I shouldn’t resent my own hobbies!
But I think I’m managing to make my first few shaky, timid steps towards that point. That epiphany that I had earlier? It was that I do have a lot of hobbies, along with the realization that I do enjoy them all. And that enjoyment makes them valid. And as a result, I shouldn’t feel bad if I’m not as “productive” as someone else as long as I had fun along the way. After all, beating a video game is still an accomplishment.
So screw you, dark internal voices overly concerned with outward appearance and the accomplishments of others. I’m an adult, and will do what I want!