A Musing on Interests

To start with a very brief overview of who I am and how I came to be here… it all started when my parents fell in love and decided to have a baby, and then a stork brought them a cute little one that they named Elizabeth.

Wait sorry too far back, let’s try again… it all started when I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. Yes! That’s the moment!

I have combined type ADHD, and I found out at 32 years old. It was hard at first, and I spent time mourning the perceived loss of my teens and 20s – I really wish I’d known earlier because I think I missed out on quite a bit.

But I’ve come to terms with who I am, and I’ve gotten to a point where I can celebrate it! I like being neurodiverse, I like how my brain works, and I like that I’m creative, enthusiastic, compassionate and that I have a wide variety of interests.

Something I’ve struggled with though is consistency. You may relate to this pattern: Find a hobby. Learn a small thing about it. Become obsessed. Commit an inane amount of time, energy and resources (possibly money) to doing it all the time. Lose interest. Move on to next hobby.

If you have art supplies, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku books, textbooks, models, journals, athletic equipment, or the like gathering dust in a basement or guest room or den, you are far from alone. I’m right there with you, friend.

And I can tell you I have experienced the highest level of shame for my habit of bouncing around. I worry that I can’t commit, that I’m not picking the right interests or that I’m just too flighty.

But WHAT IF I proposed to you that it’s perfectly natural, and you don’t need to be ashamed? That maybe it’s okay to have a multitude of hobbies and interests that you pick up, put down, and then come back to throughout your life?

I like to call it “The Cyclical Nature of Interest”. Here’s a handy definition: A concept defined by the act of regularly finding new interests, hobbies and activities and becoming overly involved or obsessed for a period of weeks or months before losing all interest and moving on to the next.

Now that I’ve named it and defined it, I’m hoping it can help you regain some sense of pleasure in the things you do.

If this is a pattern that brings you shame, think about why you feel bad. If the reason has anything to do with arbitrary expectations of what it means to be able to say you are interested in a thing, or you do a thing, or you love a thing, then please throw away the reason, and with it, the shame.

When did we decide that for something to truly be a passion, we have to consistently do it throughout our lives? Why can’t we have a lot of passions over many years? How can the number of years we’ve spent doing something be the only measure of our love for it?

There’s just nothing wrong with cycling through interests! You don’t have to fit yourself in a box of what it means to be a hobbyist. Pick up the paintbrush. Unroll the yoga mat. Unearth that sewing machine. Put it all back away when you’re done, and come back to it when you’re ready.

Do what makes you happy for as long as it makes you happy. You are an artist and an athlete and a writer. You’re a programmer and an amateur code breaker and a drone pilot and a gardener. And it doesn’t matter for how long or how many times you’ve tried to “get into it”. If you spent time on it, you were into it! You can label it a hobby!

I hope from this you can see that your way of interacting with your interests isn’t wrong. Maybe it’s different, but it helps us stand out in a world of sameness. Take a moment to be proud of your neurodiverse self today, and maybe take a moment to revisit that beginner’s crocheting kit. It’s there when you’re ready for it.

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