Thoughts About Hobbies

I’d love some insight from my readers on something. (Those who are still out there, anyway.)

I’m obsesed over whether I’m good enough for my hobby. I don’t know if I can clearly put all of this into words, but I’ll try.

My interest around this time of year is film – probably because it’s awards season and this is when most of the good films come out. But I don’t want to see just the Oscar nominees. I want to become a film expert. I want to know all the good and great films of the past. I want to read books about what makes a film great, I want to see all the great films, I want to be able to write about them. Especially older films – silents; black and white films from the golden age of Hollywood; foreign filmmakers; the great films of the 1970s; and so on.

And yet I don’t seem to have the patience for it. Sometimes it’s hard to sit down for 90-120 minutes or longer and immerse myself in a movie. After about 90 minutes, I get the urge to look at my watch. I’m sometimes annoyed to see that less time has gone by than I’d thought.

It can be especially hard to watch more than one movie a day. Especially if, instead of sitting in a movie theater, I’m at home and there are other distractions. Watching a movie at home, I’m a lot more tempted to bring up the progress bar and see how much of the movie is left.

And I fear this means I’m not good enough to have this as a hobby. I’m not good enough to belong in the elite club of movie people. The real experts are telling me: “Give it up and find another interest, and leave film-watching to those of us who actually love it. You obviously don’t love it as much as we do. This obviously isn’t your calling and you should find something else.”

Okay, but I still like it and for some reason I still keep wanting to try.

My therapist tells me it’s okay to not purely enjoy a hobby. He says it can be healthy to engage with an interest rather than just enjoy an interest. Engaging with it means there is some challenge or work involved, rather than just pure pleasure. And that’s okay.

But I still feel like true movie people never look at their watches, they love nothing better than sitting in a dark theater for three hours and immersing themselves in the screen, even two or three times a day, that for them it’s no challenge. And therefore, unlike them, I’m never going to make anything of this hobby and I should just go find something else.

Why do I have to “make anything” of it? Why can’t it just be a hobby? Because I need something in my life that can be more than just a hobby. I want something I can pursue with dedication. I don’t have that in my career. I don’t have it in any other area of my life. I want to dedicate myself to something.

But in addition to fearing I’m not cut out for it, there’s another problem: I don’t like the feeling of obsession. I’m very uncomfortable with falling down a rabbit hole and losing sight of everything else in the world. The internet made that seem abnormal anyway, because it’s so much easier to tweet and click and multitask, and my brain is forgetting what it’s like to singlemindedly focus on something. So dedicating yourself to something feels weird.

Matt has no problem sitting down and working on his website for several hours at a stretch. I want to be able to dedicate that amount of time to something as well, without feeling weird about it.

And I’m afraid of people telling me I’m weird and obsessed, and I’m afraid my strong interest in it will annoy them. I myself get irritated when someone else is obsessed with something I’m not obsessed with. But aren’t all happy people weird in some way? Aren’t all happy people kind of obsessed with something? Why do I worry so much about what other people might think? And more importantly, how do I make that worry go away?

I’d love any insight any of you might have on all of this. Often when you write about your thoughts online, nobody responds, and it just makes you feel alone. So if you have anything at all to say, I’d really appreciate it.