The Realization

So when exactly did I realize that I had lost my hobbies?  For most people, hobbies are pretty important.  You would think I would have noticed…

Growing up, I was fortunate.  My parents made sure that I was never bored.  They encouraged me to try all sorts of things.  Art, music, sports, science… They were pretty awesome.  I finally settled on a few favorites by the time I reached high school.  When I started in college, I still pursued my hobbies.  In fact, my hobbies led me into my original path of study, which still seems pretty cool when I look back on those times.

Then things happened…

Again, I have promised not to make this about work.  For this topic, however, a few comments are inevitable.  In brief, opportunities arose that took me into the medical field.  You all hear the horror stories about medical school and residencies with the insane hours and non-stop high pressure situations.  Shows on TV all make it look so glamorous.  So altruistic.  So cool.  It’s not.  The not-eating, not-sleeping, no-control lifestyle is real.  And it goes on for years.  And if you decide to be one of those life-and-death doctors who have to learn how to deliver bad news to the nicest people, well…  Let’s just say that after a few years of that, any hobbies you may have had fall by the wayside.  In fact, your desire for anything besides food and sleep disappears entirely.

I finished up with all of my board exams in June of 2014.  For the first several months after that, all the enthusiasm I could muster was to flip channels on the remote in front of the TV.  I think the ol’ brain just needed some time to decompress.  But how long can a TV binge go on?  Two months?  Three?  Four?

In October of 2014, I decided that I needed a change of scenery.  A vacation.  A good vacation.  So I got a hold of the National Geographic Travel Adventures catalogue and started flipping through.  Travel is a hobby, right?  Time to find out!  My eye landed on their week-long trip to Hawaii that included whale-watching and volcano hiking.  Who could say no to that?  So I signed myself up.  My dad and I had always talked about taking a trip together.  We hadn’t tried traveling together since I was fifteen.  At forty, I figured I could probably afford one more bonding experience.  So off we went!

As Dad lives in another state, we agreed to meet at our hotel in Maui.  We stayed in the same hotel room.  We traveled together in the same bus with our little group.  I did pass him off to other guests who were with our party regularly just to keep all of our togetherness from wearing thin.  The trip was spectacular!  That’s a whole story unto itself.  But I realized something very early on — I had no idea what to say to people.  Asking them about their lives and experiences was a wonderful way to get to know the other people in our group, but when they asked me about my life, all I could talk about was work.  I think I announced what I did within the first twenty minutes of my ride from the airport to our first hotel.  I wasn’t trying to be conceited.  I truly fell into that habit because over the years of being on emergency call, I found it best to let people know that if my pager went off, I would have to leap up from the restaurant table and leave them sitting by themselves while I dashed off to save the day again.  While technically, this is still the case, I have been successful in toning my life down to a less-emergent level that has allowed me to have a more comfortable existence.  And really, why in hell would I need to announce my profession while on vacation in Hawaii?

Because I didn’t have anything else to say…

My Dad even commented to me about it about halfway through our trip.  “You sure talk about work a lot,” he said during one of our drives.  Being in the medical field himself, you can imagine the irony of this!  I stopped for a moment, rendered temporarily speechless by his words.  I finally stated what I had feared quietly since that last board exam: “Dad,” I said simply, “I don’t have anything else to talk about.”

That vacation was a huge eye-opener for me.  I had a tangible presence in my mind after that of my workaholism.  I had become so one-sided in life that even my own parent couldn’t relate to me.  Wow.  If that’s not a cry for help, I don’t know what is.

After that, I decided to find some hobbies.  I never wanted to have to admit again that I literally had nothing else in life to talk about besides my work.  Besides, I had a few meager hobbies left over from my earlier days… And that seemed like a good place to start.

Some Queries…

Just to spark a little conversation, please allow me the indulgence of a few random questions here that cross my mind…

  • Have you found that your hobbies change significantly over the years?  For instance, do you find that sports interest you more at one point than another?
  • Do you keep some hobbies from your childhood?  How does this process happen? Which hobbies are the ones that you keep?
  • Most of us have hobbies that we wished we had taken up as children that never quite made the list.  How often as adults do we go back to try these hobbies out?

3 thoughts on “The Realization

  1. My hobbies haven’t changed all that much over the years, but the amount of time and the quality of time I can spend on them has, and I think that’s why they fall away for a time. And as far as hobbies I wish I took up as a kid, I kind of feel like I’m in a “do-over” phase now that I have kids… I never learned how to bowl, but I encouraged them to join the bowling team… I was too shy to act, but encouraged them to go out for the school musical, etc. I think helping others, especially my kiddos, find and support their hobbies and passions IS my new hobby!


  2. I see how you found your way to my blog! I have another earlier post that you didn’t see that is similar to what you’re writing about here.

    I used to be much better about having a personal life separate from work, but not since I changed jobs in 2015. I can talk about taxes and tax software all day long, but not a peep about anything people outside my profession would actually be interested in.

    I hope 2017 is better for both of us in having a personal life. Even if it is talking about smoking meat.

    Liked by 1 person

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