As a child, I loved to draw. I remember using up countless notebooks, crayons and sketch pens to draw and colour. I had the steady hands needed for sketching and the patience to sit for hours, drawing lines, curves and patterns. And looking at completed drawings filled me with a sense of satisfaction and exhilaration. But as I grew older, my academics took precedence over everything else. I was discouraged from wasting my time on anything extra-curricular. And gradually, over the years, I stopped drawing.
Today, as a grown up, I still love to draw. And I do not have anyone policing the way I spend my leisure. Yet, other responsibilities, social engagements and, sometimes, sheer laziness keep me from engaging in something that brings me so much joy. I have seen that many of my peers feel the same way about their passion—be it playing the guitar or dancing or writing poems. As much as they love the feeling the activity brings them, they find themselves putting it off due to various reasons.
I suppose it is often a mental block that keeps us from investing in our hobbies. Working through this block and pushing ourselves might be well worth the effort, as our hobbies can contribute immensely to our personal growth. Developing our skills in the activities that we enjoy can get our creative juices flowing, open our minds to new ways of self-expression and enhance our mental wellbeing. This International Youth Skills Day, Soulveda explores ways in which we can hone our latent skills.
Among the many excuses I give for not drawing as much as I would like is, ‘I don’t have the time.’ And this is a common reason, I have found, why most people push their passions to the backburner. Indeed, between our studies, job responsibilities and chores at home, we might feel that we have no time to spare for these activities. But this is not an excuse, says Laura Vanderkam, best-selling author and motivational speaker in her Ted Talk How to Gain Control Over Your Free Time. “Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it,” she says.
The key is to think backwards and plan our weeks depending on what things we would like to be better at a year down the line, Vanderkam advises. Indeed, by meticulously planning our days to include our hobbies, passions and pursuits, we can make sure we improve consistently. This is what Smriti Srivatsa, a student of dentistry, does to develop her crocheting skills. She carries her hook and her yarn with her wherever she goes and starts knitting the second she has some time to spare. “If I am not eating or sleeping or working, I am probably crocheting!” says the youngster.
Not all hobbies are so convenient, though. Most creative pursuits demand a rush of inspiration, some find. Of course, this means that when inspiration strikes, one needs to give vent to it right then. Rupika Rangaswamy, a software engineer who makes art on the side, agrees. “I’ve skipped parties, compromised on my gym routine and even lost my sleep when I’ve felt the need to make art,” she says. It was to bring a bit of structure and discipline to her passion that Rupika recently took up a 36-day art challenge. And it was important to do that, she admits, for talent without practice may not take us very far.
Hobbies are indeed way more than pastimes. They are an aspect of our personality that needs to be honed and polished.