Burkley McCarthey '24

Amid a generation obsessed with work and taking themselves too seriously, I can’t help but notice that along the road of selfrighteousness, hobbies have long since died off. I find that in the age of digital media, not only are people consumed with their work, but their work consumes them. Far too often, I have met with people informally and been unable to have a meaningful conversation because they were totally engrossed with identifying themselves as an occupation, not a person. Sorry, but being in finance is not a personality trait. In fact, it’s 9 PM on a Saturday, why are you still talking about work? Loving what you do is very important, but what you enjoy, what you care about, and your purpose are even more important. It is essential to know that you are more than your occupation.

The cultivation of hobbies starts from the parents during childhood. I suspect if, as a parent, the only hobby you have instilled into your child is getting good grades, that same field of thought will consume them throughout their adult life. If the most important passion you instill in your child is getting good grades, what will your child’s most important passion be after leaving school — in other words, for the next 70 years of his or her life? Take your kids to the Zoo. Go rock climbing. Travel. Try new things. Life is too precious to actually think that what you do for work reflects who you are, or as it seems today, what you are.

Sadly enough, modern technology has tricked an entire generation into thinking their life is very fulfilling. Most time that could be dedicated to hobbies is spent scrolling on Instagram, getting angry at Twitter, or watching Netflix. I’m sorry to break the news, but none of those things matter. But we think they do, and that could not be any further from the truth.

Here, I want to make the distinction between hobbies and pastimes. Hobbies are things you genuinely have an interest in and fulfill your ambition and passion. Pastimes simply, well, pass time. I encourage you to find what matters and fulfills you. Try new things, leave your comfort zone, and do not take yourself too seriously. Do not be afraid to try new and fun things no matter the occupation you choose. Do you know what you call a doctor that just left a square dance class? A doctor.

There are so many things to do in life, yet masses of society have fallen victim to the same cycle of repetition. Wake up, go to work, come home, have dinner, and watch TV until you fall asleep to do it all again the next day. Finally, the weekend! Now it’s time to go to the same bar, in the same city, with the same people to talk about the same stuff. Exciting! That might sound familiar, and it should, for those are the very same motions consuming a generation. There are 423 national parks, most museums are free or low cost, free community events happen all the time, and a walk in the park is free. Hobbies are not just for the rich. If COVID-19 gave us anything, it was free time. Sadly enough, most time was spent with pastimes and not hobbies.

Perhaps the reason for the wane in hobbies is due to the fashioning of what I will call “hustle culture”. More people are pursuing advanced degrees, entry-level jobs are ultra-competitive, and the inherent sense of competition accompanies all social media platforms. That being said, life is competitive, and hustle culture can easily consume anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hustle just as much as the next guy, seriously. But I know my life is much more than a hustle. Despite how hard you hustle, you meet the same fate as the slowest moving creature I can think of: a sloth. Sloths, much like people, die one day. You can’t out hustle death.

I have never heard of anyone who looked back on their life and said their moments filled with the most joy came from their iPhone or Netflix. Most people on their deathbed don’t lament the fact that they could have spent more time at work. Because I promise you, life is only a short trip, and no one makes it out alive. I encourage you all to do the things that bring you true joy and cultivate passion, not just simply pass the time. Find what you like to do and do it. Time is limited and should be spent as such. We are here on earth to do more than work. As Mark Twain said, “The most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”