What’s your hobby?

When I was in second grade, my school had a story writing contest on fire safety. I remember writing my story on Hangul manuscript papers, making sure that I was following the spacing guidelines accurately. Couple days later, my teacher came up to me and asked if I had written the story all by myself. I said yes, and she looked at me incredulously as she handed me stacks of clean manuscript paper. She told me to rewrite the whole story, and prove that I had truly done it myself. She pulled me out of the class as if she was giving me a detention. I don’t remember if I ended up winning the contest, but I do remember my second grade teacher looking perplexed, having a difficult time believing that I was the brain behind the story.

It’s possible that my second grade teacher just hated my guts – she made me do extra homework so I can write with my right hand instead of my left hand after all – but I also share this story because I’ve been told that my writing isn’t bad. Okay, actually, I’ve been told that my writing is good. People, for the most part, like my writing and resonate with my posts. Maybe it’s a self-selected group of people who give me that feedback, but still, besides in my 12th grade creative writing class, I’ve never felt like I was a bad writer.

It hit me today that I stick with writing because I’m scared to try anything else.

Don’t get me wrong. I love typing my thoughts out. I still dream of publishing a novel based on parts of my story. I love to read other people’s writing too. But I stick with it because it’s something comfortable. It’s something I know that I won’t fail.

For a Sagittarius and an ENFP who’s supposed to thrive in spontaneity, I tend to be on a more conservative side. Sure, some people say that moving across different countries and cities might be a courageous thing to do. Or I say that I’m always open to try any food at least once. But I’m also scared to try any hard drugs (goodbye, quintessential SoCal rave experience), or of anything that flies. And I am scared of failure, especially if I’ve gotten some exposure and found it not easy.

Let me explain. For the longest time, I wanted to take up sewing. My friends know this – in senior year of college, an old friend of mine even gifted me a mini sewing machine for Christmas. It turned out that I’m not very good at it, which makes sense, because I’ve never really done it. Couple years later, I’m still just hoarding clothes I picked up in thrift stores that could be altered to my taste. My friend Lucy has offered multiple times to teach me, and I always say that it’d be a good idea, but I’ve never really intentionally done anything towards making it happen, like buying a machine or signing up for a class.

Or, getting a bartending license. I used to work as a bartender in New York for a couple months. I also worked as a cashier/barista in a bakery. Frankly, I was quite terrible at making drinks. At the bar, I mostly flirted my way out. At the bakery, I also mostly flirted my way out, but with my coworker who was good at making drinks. During my last semester of grad school, my dad gave me $300 so I can enroll in Columbia’s bartending class. He told me that if my job search fails then it’s at least a way for me to get some cash (…thanks Dad). I didn’t enroll in the class because I told myself that I was busy writing my thesis, but truthfully, it might’ve been because I knew I sucked at making drinks.

I think it applies to not just hobbies, but the rest of my life. For example, I used to be pretty good at being real in love. But after several mishaps, I find myself growing hesitant to open myself up. I still want someone, I still am on dating apps, but once I find out that the other person isn’t interested, I close the gate and choose to not share anything else anymore. I mean – maybe that’s normal for everyone else. But for me that’s not normal, because I value genuineness and vulnerability in relationships, especially in a romantic one.

I think it’s a blessing that I’m having this conversation with myself because that means I’m recognizing that there is a roadblock. There are lots of things I want to do besides writing. I want to sew, that’s for sure. I also want to learn how to pole dance, although that might have to wait since classes are expensive. I do want to learn coding because I’m planning on getting another degree. I want to pick up Spanish again, and this time, not lose it. I think I’m having these thoughts because I’m at a point where I’m the only one responsible for my continued growth. No more school or job to push me into learning more skills. I’m responsible for making myself a better human. I’m both the parent and the child.

In the long run, hopefully I’ll be good at all of my hobbies. But for now, I think I need to first start them and see how I feel. Will I be terrible at them? Absolutely. But there’s only one way to find out how terrible I will be.

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