Grab a snack and maybe a blanket and gather round; I’m going to tell you a story. When I was a tiny, innocent child who didn’t swear too much and internally eye roll at every person who didn’t walk at exactly my speed, my mum enrolled me in ballet classes. I had silky little ballet shoes that I accidentally ruined when I wore them in the garden, a baby blue leotard, a matching hair band and white tights. Cute.
I went to classes with other tiny dancers and then eventually not-so-tiny dancers. I took exams judged by unnecessarily scary old ladies, performed in shows and eventually worked my way up to the Holy Grail: pointe shoes. And do you know what I did next? I quit.
I spent years and years dreaming of the day I could get my pointe shoes and then I just quit a few months later! But it wasn’t because I fell out of love with ballet. It was because I’d starting hanging around with some boys I thought were cool (they weren’t) and they started turning up outside my classes and looking through the windows. I was embarrassed and I thought ballet wasn’t cool enough (it is) so gave in and I quit. And, sweet lawwwdy, I regret it.
I spend literally hours watching ballet documentaries and behind the scenes clips on YouTube, wishing I’d carried on. I daydream that it’s me gracefully sweeping across the stage in a single leap or defying gravity on the tips of my toes. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t destined to be the next Misty Copeland, but at least I could have been twirling and jumping around without a care in the world instead of hanging around with those boys who I soon learned were NOT worth ditching ballet for.
Are you thinking of giving up your hobby? Don’t regret it like me! Ask yourself these questions first:
Are you doing it for you?
As is very clear from my heartbreaking saga, I didn’t quit ballet for me. I quit it because of some gross boys who were taking the mickey outside the window. (And I still wanted to impress them for some reason?) Don’t let anyone make the decision for you. If you love it, carry on!
Could you take a few weeks off first to see if you miss it?
I pretty much dived straight in and decided I was absolutely quitting for good. V. dramatic really. So, instead of slamming the door shut like me, try taking a few weeks off. They do say absence makes the heart grow fonder after all. If, after a few weeks, you’re missing it like crazy then it’s a definite sign that it’s something you should keep in your life. And if you don’t miss it? Maybe it’s time to move on.
Do you still enjoy it?
Not every story is like mine. Some people feel like a brand new person when they don’t have the pressure of, say, swimming laps at 6am on a Saturday or passing a graded music exam. But some people give up a hobby in the heat of a stressful moment and wish they hadn’t, so think about the last three or six months, have you mostly enjoyed it or has the fun drained right out of it? There’s a big difference between the two, so take some time over it, it’s worth it.
Has someone made you feel bad about it?
It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy, your best mate, your dad, your sister, or a total stranger; if they’re making you feel bad about your love of dancing/singing/painting/playing the nose flute then they’re being super uncool. Remember: if you love something, someone else’s totally unwelcome opinion shouldn’t change that. So, take a step back and think, ‘am I going to allow this person to make me feel bad about this thing that I love?’ Then let the answer be a big, fat NO.
Could you change one thing?
It’s not always the actual hobby that’s putting you off; sometimes it’s the environment or the people. If your violin teacher is killing you with boredom or you’re in a choir with group of people you don’t click with, try swapping that one thing before giving it up altogether.
Are you putting too much pressure on yourself?
Quite often, our hobbies come with a side order of goals and targets. It could be selling a certain number of handcrafted bracelets every month, winning gold in a race or bagging a prize in a photography competition. These added extras can turn our hobbies from something you do to unwind into a task. Added on top of homework, exams and a social life, your hobby can start to feel like another chore on a long list. Do you need to win every competition and every medal or can you step back from all that stuff for a while and get back to the fun place you started out from?
Image: Hailey Hamilton