There are a lot of life lessons our hobbies can teach us. When we take the time to think about what drew us to our hobbies and why we continue to do them, we can start to see the lessons they can bring to the rest of our lives.
I was a first time gardener this year which turned out to be a fulfilling, confusing, frustrating, and enlightening journey.
At the end of the summer I reflected on what gardening meant to me and why I chose to pursue it. This led to think about all the aspects of gardening that I could incorporate into the rest of my life.
Gardening not only had a positive impact on me while I was doing it, but the lessons I came away with continue to influence my day to day life.
Sometimes you just need to jump into things
There’s a lot to learn about gardening or any hobby you get into, it can be hard to figure out where to start and what equipment you need. As I started to make a plan for my garden I realized how much I would need to figure out even after doing extensive research.
- How much light did each part of my backyard get?
- How good was the soil?
- How long do the temperatures stay warm enough for plants to thrive?
I also realized that there wasn’t much equipment I truly needed to start gardening. It was that thought that helped push me from planning to doing. I decided to use the information I had gathered and to just jump in. There’s something to be said for learning as you go. You may not even know what questions you have until a problem presents itself.
I laid out in my mind the pros and cons of just going out and starting to plant.
- Best case scenario: Everything I plant grows and I have a beautiful garden that provides me with food.
- Worst case scenario: Nothing grows but I’ve spent time outdoors soaking up the sun and enjoying the nature that surrounds me.
I saw that this was a fairly low-risk scenario and decided that there was nothing holding me back.
What actually happened was somewhere in the middle, but for me there wasn’t a losing scenario.
It felt freeing to not plan something out and just learn by doing. If it didn’t work then it didn’t work and I still would have loved the time I spent doing my hobby.
You don’t need to know everything before you start
Not every new adventure is something you may feel comfortable just jumping into, and that is perfectly OK. Researching is a helpful and important aspect of any hobby, it’s good to have an idea of what you’re getting into.
But, no matter how much you plan and prepare, you won’t know everything. No one does when they first start, but not everyone talks about that. We hear a lot about what goes well and not as much about what didn’t work out.
Things will happen you didn’t plan for or even know could happen. That’s part of the joy in trying something new or trying things a different way. It doesn’t mean it won’t be frustrating or disheartening, but know that you are not alone. Everyone who has started a hobby has sucked at it for some period of time. Everything takes time to learn and get better at, the key is to find ways to learn from and enjoy the process.
A few months after planting my beets and watching their beautiful leaves grow tall I realized they were only growing up and not down. I may not be eating many beets in my future, but I’ve been enjoying the seas of green leaves waving in the wind.
Be patient and enjoy the process
Anyone who gets into gardening knows it is a waiting game and things take time. No one plants a seed and expects to be eating a cucumber for dinner that night. It’s one thing to work to be more patient and another thing to have no choice but to be patient. Having a garden that would not provide me with food or flowers for months encouraged me to enjoy the process.
As my garden started to grow it gave me a place to retreat during the day when I needed a break from indoor lights and screens. It gave me a daily reminder to slow down and take the time to take in my surroundings. I started learning about the different insects that I would find on flowers, I downloaded an app to help me identify bird calls, and I made sure to walk slow to look for frogs.
Having a garden helped me stop and notice the small details. How flowers of the same plant have slightly different coloring or how many species of bees were living just in my small backyard.
There are many times in life when we can rush the process or find shortcuts. There is a time an a place for those, but we cannot live our whole lives on fast forward. We must find reasons to stop and listen and enjoy the world how it is in this very moment.
You’re always learning something
Part of the joy of gardening for me was learning what I didn’t know. Problems came up – such as my carrots and beets not growing well – and it gave me a puzzle to work on. I now have ideas on what I can do differently next year. There’s a joy in doing something that challenges you and pushes you to think about things differently.
I imagine next year new problems will arise that I hadn’t even anticipated this year. Instead of being frustrated or disheartened by that, I see it as a chance to learn something new.
Be open to learning new things about your hobby, no matter how long you have been practicing it. There is so much others can teach us if we are willing to listen.
Don’t keep giving nutrients to parts that aren’t growing
The conditions turned out to be just right for my tomatoes and they grew prolifically. This meant that branches were continuously dying and new ones were taking their place.
On my daily garden venture I would prune the dying branches to make way for new growth. The old branches were no longer providing flowers or fruit and were at this point just taking up space on the plant.
This made me realize how many things within our lives we continue to give time and energy to that no longer help us grow and flourish or contribute to our overall happiness. It can be anything from friendships, hobbies, a job, or a routine.
Taking stock of what is helping us thrive and bringing meaning to our life allows us to see where we should be putting our energy. It can also help illuminate what is draining us and taking our energy and giving nothing in return.
Cutting out parts of our lives is not always easy. Sometimes we ignore the parts that are not enriching our lives because change can be difficult or painful. Other times we may not even realize the aspects of our lives that are draining our energy. But pruning those parts means we have more energy to give to those activities and those people that give us energy back in return.
What can your hobbies teach you?
Think about your hobbies and what they bring to your life. What makes you enjoy them and keep doing them?
A hobby that you stick with is something that adds value to your life. Think about what aspects of your hobby you can bring to add value to other parts of your life. When you figure out what brings you happiness, a sense of accomplishments, creativity, or just plain joy, you should work to incorporate that into as much of your life as you can.
Playing a team sport teaches the importance of working together towards a goal.
Creating art teaches that nothing is perfect and you should not strive towards something that cannot be attained.
Drawing teaches the importance of taking your time to get towards your goal.
Yoga teaches you to honor the individual journey that each of us are on.
Doing crosswords teaches that there is always something new you can learn, and to ask for help when you need it.