Recently I read an article about the downfalls of being a "serial hobbyist" and how it can undermine your ability to be taken seriously, distract you from being a committed entrepreneur and so on. I understand why some people might think that. All too often I've detected the skepticism from family and friends when I mention a new project I'm starting; or when my dear, sweet, loving husband makes a good-humoured comment about all the different "phases" I go through - a painting phasing, a sewing phase (which was, admittedly, quite short), a calligraphy phase. I've been able to experiment with different hobbies and discover new interests over the last year or so - which has been a wonderful experience. But there are times, however, when I feel the need to defend myself for all the many different things I enjoy doing.
Maybe you've heard this before: "it's better to do one thing great, than many things average." I guess that's the underlying principle here. There's pressure in our society to find one thing to do - which unfairly makes being a serial hobbyist the opposite of a serious and committed whatever you are. That's not ok!
So I want to set the record straight. Because people never ask the question, "what is your hobby?" They ask, "what are your hobbies." Plural. As in, it's ok to have more than one. So this is why I think it's not only fine to be a serial hobbyist, but also the key to living a happy and fulfilled life.
Simply put, being a serial hobbyist is interesting. It's natural for us humans to get bored. Some bore more quickly than others - no prob! Having several things you like to do keeps things interesting for when you tire of any given activity. There is nothing wrong with that.
Maybe some people can do one thing always and forever and never get tired of it. Good for them! That's great. But it doesn't mean that those of us who aren't like that are unfocused or non-committal.
When I first got interested calligraphy I ordered a beautiful starter kit of nibs, gorgeous black ink, quality paper and a great instructional book - and then I learned how to do it with dedication and perseverance. Now, I'm not a master-calligrapher by any means, but I find it interesting and enjoyable.
It encourages continued growth and learning.
Serial hobbyists have a curious-mindset. They are interested in learning and trying new things. Being fiercely curious and genuinely inquisitive fosters empathy and understanding - something the world could use a lot more of.
Plus, people who enjoy learning and doing many things carry certain skills over. Learning how to paint with watercolor, for example, isn't only about the brush strokes or paper quality, it's a lot about patience, practice and having a respect for the craft. Some skills and qualities you learn doing one thing can be carried over to other activities and into your life in general.
It brings happiness and fulfillment.
If you're anything like me, you understand the deep satisfaction that comes from learning something new and adopting a new hobby. Serial hobbyists live in a constant cycle of: interest in doing something, actually doing it, enjoying the thing (or not), but always having the fulfillment of having tried something new.
I imagine that taking an online class in hand-lettering and practicing in the evenings brings me the same satisfaction that a master pianist feels after nailing a particularly difficult song. It makes me happy. Period. In the end, isn't that what it's all about?
It's no one's business but your own.
Finally, who cares? People care way more about themselves than they do about others. So who really cares if someone's a serial hobbyist? People shouldn't have to defend or justify themselves to others for living their lives on their own terms. It doesn't matter what people think of you - it only matters what you think of you.
So, go and enjoy your many hobbies in peace. Take up gardening, bird-watching, playing the guitar, foraging for mushrooms, wrestling alligators, growing coffee beans, or all of them - whatever things wake you up and make you alive.
Next on my list? A photography course - and I'm pretty excited about it.
What do you think? Are you a fellow serial-hobbyist? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!