Why Having Too Many Hobbies Can Make You Suffer, Unless…

Myth: You have so many interests, you must lead an exciting lifestyle.

Hello. I’m a 22 year-old female with a few self-proclaimed mild personality disorders that I’d like to define as a brain’s natural wiring that interferes with one’s day-to-day ability to carry out a smooth lifestyle. You have problems, too. They’re just most likely not listed on DSM-5 to make you feel like a freak. Most of us are fortunate enough to be classified by an institution as “normal” — whatever that may mean. I shall disclose my mild PDs in a messy fashion in the following piece of writing.

I have a certain type of personality that makes me very much my own worst enemy.

I think too much. I analyse, analyse, and analyse. I’d like to call this… over-analysing. The details, I care about the details. That’s a piece of knowledge I can absorb and ponder on… nope, can’t let that slip. That’s a browser tab I have to keep open or I won’t remember to read it or perform a task tomorrow. Therefore I must have 40 of these tabs opened until Google Chrome crashes — thankfully — because it can no longer keep up with my voracious need to be in control, a need that ultimately leaves me feeling… utterly, not in control.

You see, I have a compulsive need for self-development and am in pursuit of becoming the ultimate knowledge sponge. I spend a good deal of time self-reflecting on how to be the best version of myself and how to make a difference, raising my self-awareness levels, reaffirming my principles, evaluating my flaws, dissecting people’s feelings and intentions, learning from others, maintaining and creating real human connections, and endeavoring to hone my skills and hobbies.

I call myself a reader, but since my college days of extensive scholarly readings, my attention span really only allows for short online articles and TedTalks now. I surround myself with all these books I buy but don’t finish reading… because it makes me feel more at peace. In that sense, I’m really just an average book collector.

I call myself a writer, but I haven’t written much of anything other than dozens of essays and research papers in English. I am afraid to write, so I have yet to find my English writing voice. This might be my first public entry ever. I do, however, take a lot of notes. So really, I’m just a low-key note-taker.

I call myself a passionate musician, but I don’t write as much as I want to. I tell myself I don’t have high enough quality gadgets to record professional videos like all those YouTubers. AP and college lower-level music theory classes haven’t exactly helped me blossom into Mozart. I don’t have audio production knowledge, there are too many buttons. I’m an average singer. (Insert more excuses here.) Sometimes I wonder if I’m just living in the memory of being a passionate musician.

So I write these incomplete melodies and filler-word lyrics. I cook the same recipes in different variations. I take these online courses I don’t finish in time. I feel just a little heavier if I don’t exercise for a week. I make art only when I force myself by paying for a class. I am afraid of creating ugly things. I am afraid of writing poor literature. I am afraid of wasting your time.

The truth is, I have all these interests I want to pursue, but I end up feeling like I can barely maintain them as habits, or that I’m reaching my goals in snail-like increments. This, coupled with being a self-development addict, cooks up the worst recipe, where I feel like I can never truly feel…whole.

I spend so much time thinking about all the things I need to do, that I don’t do enough.

I have so many hobbies, so much passion and energy, but I don’t know how to manage or utilise my peaks of motivation throughout the day.. or lack thereof. In simple terms, if there is no foreseeable deadline, I’m bad at time management.

If I wanted to, I could easily lie in bed after a long day at work, scrolling through YouTube, Facebook, and their news articles and cute videos until I fall asleep.

A week will go by and I’ll feel utterly… not in control. What is the word for that feeling? Is there a word for that? No, not “helpless.” If I don’t restrain myself, I could spend the next 10 minutes researching for a word that may or may not exist, just so I can collect it into my mental dictionary.

My mind wanders. I constantly notice or think about way too many things at once. I switch through tasks every 10 minutes or less, because I get distracted by other tasks that seem just as important. So I do a little of this. Do a little of that. Oh, that’s a cool article — Favorited. What a touching video, just 20 seconds won’t hurt. Wow, that was such a sad video, now I must sit in this weird mood where I’m stuck in my ability to deeply empathize with another human being’s situation, where I dry up my tears and ponder about the meaning of life and how fortunate I am… until I snap out of it.

This weekend, my priority was to create a year-long personal finance budget. But because I finally found the 1/100 appropriate mood to write this underwhelming debut of a blog post, here I am. Ordinarily, as I mentioned, I would try to finish a myriad of tasks at once, despite knowing that I’m not the best multi-tasker. Wow, myriad is a hard word to spell. Thank you red squiggly line.

Have you noticed? I am trying to write this as a controlled stream of consciousness to illustrate that I am basically a knowledge sponge with mild symptoms of ADHD.

In 5th grade, I was a hyper child with a curious mind. I would say anything and everything that came to my mind. I was also forgetful and bad at listening. Mr. Tucker thought I might have had ADHD. They had specialists come in to observe me learning in action, only to conclude that I didn’t have ADHD. That I could in fact, successfully concentrate and follow through on assignments. I just had a billion questions to annoy my teacher, that’s all.

This is the way things are.

Yea but, why?

Because that’s just the way things are.

Okay… wait, why?

…I don’t know.

Oh.

One more thing: I’ve noticed that I prioritize work that would affect other people more. If I’m on a team or leading a team, I’ll put my individual work and performance on the back-burner, just to see to it that my team succeeds and that I haven’t wasted anyone’s time. Interestingly enough, in that context I am all about structure, organisation, and efficiency.

I strongly dislike it when people waste my time. But somehow I allow myself to waste a lot of my own time.

Which brings me back to the thesis of this messy piece of writing:

I try to do too much and end up doing little of anything at all. This is contributed by my compulsive need for self-development, annoying overthinking and mind-wandering habits, poor time management skills, and my inability to prioritize individual work. Having too many interests, is therefore, not as fun or exciting as people would commonly imagine.

TLDR; I lack an efficient lifestyle operation method.

I need to find a structure, a routine that works for me. This corner I’m sitting in in this coffee shop seems to raise my productivity levels compared to the last spot I sat in. Listening to TedTalks while cooking, cleaning, travelling, and exercising makes me feel like I’m wasting less time. Sleeping in on the weekends feels great in the moment, but it also sets my day back. I feel more in control when I cross things off of a to-do list at the end of a day. I feel great when I consistently hit the gym. Allocating large chunks of time (6~12 hours) dedicated to only fulfilling one task without interruption, works best for me. Looking for ways to curb my phone addiction helps me (think I) stare at my phone less. Saying no to things I don’t want to agree to saves me time and discomfort (I wasn’t always good at this). Next: Now that I’m working full-time, I am going to try to find out when my peak productivity hours are throughout the week and what factors affect my motivation levels.

What works for you?

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