catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 3 :: 2007.02.09 — 2007.02.23


When your hobbies must be something more

I have been searching for work for almost a year and out of work for almost six months.  I am fortunate to have a wife with a full-time job and, as of yet, no children depending on me.  So while we aren’t putting a lot of money in the bank, we aren’t taking a lot out either.

Despite what job-finding books say, it is emotionally impossible to spend eight hours every day searching for a job.  I go bananas every time I read my cover letter to make sure I’ve caught every instance where I need to change the name of the company and position for which I’m applying.  I can only spend three or four hours a day and even less on Fridays.  As a result, I have more extra time than I’m used to.

I have tried to see this time as a gift.  What cubicle worker wouldn’t happily accept more time for focus on what she really loves to do?  I have the opportunity to read all the books I hadn’t time to read.  The time I need to write, I have.  I have no excuse not to run or lift weights.  I can cook healthful dinners for my wife.  I’ve got plenty of time to engage all my hobbies.

But I don’t.

Not with the regularity that my schedule allows.  I did for a while.  I read The Brothers Karamazov.  I trained for a marathon.  I wrote several pages every morning.  I didn’t really cook, but I thought about it a lot.

Now, while I still read, write, and run, I do so without regularity.  I suppose what happened was that my hobbies became my work and lost some of their appeal.  When I was working and going to school, I had to steal time away to write or squeeze in a run.  Now, with almost unlimited time to do what I want, it is too easy to put it off and convince myself I’ll do it later.  I waste much more time now than I ever did when I was working.

The beauty of hobbies is that they have nothing to do with work.  You don’t have to do hobbies if you don’t feel like it.  When I filled my days with my hobbies, they de facto became my work and, as a result, left me with no hobbies for escape.  For me writing, running, and reading are how I deal with the pressures of life.  By making my hobbies my work, I took my method of dealing with stress and made them stressors.  If I didn’t run I would feel bad.  When I wouldn’t pick up a book for several days I would think myself a failure, a feeling always on the edges of the mind of any job searcher.

Everyone tells you that job searching can be stressful, but no one tells you that it is dangerous to your hobbies.  The person who expects too much personal fulfillment from work will be disappointed, but so too the person who expects too much fulfillment, purpose or escape from their hobbies.

Which is all to say that I look forward to gainful employment.  Not only because I’ll be able to again add to our bank account, contribute to the greater good and use my education, but because I will once again allow my hobbies to take their rightful place in my life.

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