I hate questions like “what do you do in your spare time?” and “what are your hobbies?”
I mean who the hell even has “hobbies” these days?
The reason I hate these relatively unassuming questions, is because in my twisted mind, what they sound like are “what do you do that justifies your existence?” and “what are you doing to make your life worthwhile?”
I feel like I’m being judged. I feel like I’m about to be defined by the worthiness, the adventurousness, the excitement of my response.
So I do what any sane person does when they feel attacked by this line of questioning. I over claim.
I start listing everything I’ve ever done, or ever considered doing: “Oh, you know, I travel, scuba dive, cook, read, train for marathons, do charitable community work, work on my novel, mentor young business entrepreneurs, teach myself French, gather stimulus for my female empowerment blog, organise networking events with like-minded individuals who have also relocated to a foreign country, and I also enjoy photography, so I’m up at dawn most days to get the best light when everyone else is still sleeping.”
Never mind the fact that I actually spend 80% of my free time socialising and eating out, 10% drunk, and 5% mindlessly surfing the internet – I obviously cram a LOT into that remaining 5% of spare time I have.
Why the need to exaggerate? It seems to me there’s so much pressure these days to be doing. Everyone is so impressed and filled with effusive praise for anyone who seems absolutely run off their feet with a jam-packed calendar full of virtuous appointments which apparently aid their self-development. I’m guilty of being one of them. I’ve often handed out compliments to those who have burnt the candle at both ends, cramming as much into life as possible.
But let me tell you a little secret: people aren’t doing what you think they are. The reason, in fact, that we perpetuate this cycle of encouraging the belief that a life full of worthy hobbies is a life well spent, is because we’re just so in awe of anyone who has the get-up-and-go to do anything other than drink and moan over a meal to their mates after another 12 hour day in the office. The truth is, work has become more demanding than ever. Workforce numbers haven’t swelled in years in professional environments. When was the last time you heard about a company who wasn’t “keeping overheads down” (read: not hiring the resource required and just milking existing employees to the point of exhaustion)? And with increased work pressures and work hours comes a fundamental physical need: rest and relaxation.
I work long, and hard, at my job. I travel, for work and for pleasure. I cook when I can, and take pleasure in it, but when I’m working hard I take even more pleasure in eating out. I surf the net mindlessly. I waste time on social media. I text my friends. I hang out with my friends, a lot. And yeah, I’m a photographer. Of food, on instagram, shared on facebook. And I am not ashamed to say, I have a full and worthy life, filled with fun and laughter and love.