“Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion, and purpose of life. Have the courage to follow them.” -Ruben Chavez
When I was a teen, I had a big passion for activities like music, but I lost interest in them as I matured. As a result, my feelings of being passionate about anything in general went down. I had to figure something out real soon.
While searching for a new passion project, I focused my attention on my happiness. I learned that happiness should guide us toward the activities we will enjoy, and feel a passion for, in the long run. The search was hard but I remained resilient. I found myself enjoying bowling and knitting, but it became clear that these activities aren’t going to give me long-term happiness. I didn't realize this until I became an adult but timing DOES play a huge role in guiding me to my next activity. I couldn't believe this at first, but it made sense when I found my new hobbies (photography, audio producing, and podcasting) and learned about them. Thus, I came to like these activities in moderation, NOT intensely.
My Previous Passion: Music
School exposed me to P.E and the arts. I learned the importance of staying active by engaging in sports. On the other hand, the arts taught me to find my creative side. Right away, I grew attached to the arts and believed (at the time) that music and I were meant for each other. This started my passion for learning instruments and ultimately music. Piano and guitar lessons showed me how different instruments operate. These experiences only broadened my passion for music, and this caused me to learn more instruments in school.
When I took Beginning Orchestra in middle school, my teacher had the class participate in an activity where each of us had to draw a handprint on a piece of paper and write the instruments’ names (violin, viola, cello, and bass) under it. Then the class took turns voting (by adding tally marks next to the instruments’ names) on which instrument is suitable for each student. As a result, I was assigned the violin. The students learned a few important things about the class including playing in a group, key and time signatures, tempos, and dynamics. When we received the sheet music of songs we were going to play in our concerts, we were prepared. As I continued my musical journey in middle school, I enrolled in Intermediate and Advanced Orchestra for seventh and eighth grade, respectively. Performing different songs like “Night Shift” by Richard Meyer during concerts to family and friends gave me confidence that I can play the violin well.
But when I enrolled in my high school’s orchestra classes, all hope was lost. I was not prepared to play challenging music like “Sinfonia in G Minor” by Bach. To add, the environment in the classroom was uptight and tougher than in middle school, but discipline was necessary in order for students to take the class seriously and NOT goof off. My confidence was deteriorating. I was scared of playing loud because I feared I could accidentally play the wrong note. If the note is out of tune, people will notice and it’s embarrassing being called out. The violin is the kind of string instrument where you have to REALLY get the right note. I had a hard time dealing with the reality that the level of difficulty in orchestra would increase as I kept taking more advanced orchestra classes. I wasn’t ready for the challenge. This was the start of a big wake-up call for me.
Discouraged, I decided to take another class that still pertains to music: jazz band. Switching from orchestral to jazz was a big deal to me. Not only did I change genres, but I also swapped instruments. As much as I enjoyed playing the violin for roughly four years, I really wanted to play another instrument: the electric bass.
Jazz band was a really fun class. I was the only woman in my band’s rhythm section (drums, guitar, piano, and bass) and the first female bass player in the class’ history. I grew to love the music the class played because there are different types of jazz (i.e., big band, fusion, etc.) while there is only one type of orchestral music. The atmosphere was friendly and loose but at the same time, I had a hard time adapting to the environment. I had a personality where I had to take everything seriously. Plus, I was shy. The students were nice, but sometimes they would have a few disagreements. Nevertheless, the band performed great music from legends such as Benny Golson (“Killer Joe”) and Duke Ellington (“Take The ‘A’ Train”) during our band concerts. I really enjoyed the experience so much that I was really considering being a professional musician after I finished school, but sadly that ambition didn’t last long…
Problems Then Solutions
I really thought I could be a musician for the rest of my life as that was my passion, but I started to lose interest in playing music. Performing was an activity I once enjoyed, but now I felt I had enough. I did not like the pressure I got from my teacher and classmates during rehearsals, but all of us wanted to make good music. The stress of learning the songs and attempting to play them flawlessly took a toll on me. I had other classes like Honors Precalculus and Physics I needed to pay attention to as well. It became clear that it was time for me to put my instruments away and retire. It was a hard decision to make but I know I did the right thing.
I never thought that my passion would change, but I realized that I was growing at the same time. Initially, I thought it was a bad thing, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Growth is an important part of the development of an individual. To add, I learned an important lesson about following my heart. At that time, my heart was telling me that it was time for me to go after something that would keep me active as an artist; I needed to find something that would make me happy in the long run. Regardless of the hobby, I’m open to anything.
Finding Happiness Through the Right Hobbies
I’m not going to lie: the constant search for finding the right hobbies was no easy task. I’ve tried my hand at hobbies such as drawing or cooking but I wasn’t a fan of them. I decided to really look at things where I can tell a story from my perspective.
With a camera in my hand, I decided to do photography. I never was too serious about the hobby as I enjoyed taking pictures as a child, but in 2014, photography re-entered my life. I had taken a photo of a blossom in my backyard and was amazed at how clear the photo turned out. Fast forward to early 2017, I had the urge to photograph some raindrops outside when it wasn’t pouring. When I found a raindrop on a tree branch, I focused my camera on it and snapped the photo. I can’t help but admit this but I’m really proud of those photos. Just recently, I decided to showcase my work in a virtual gallery for viewers to look at. My only hope is that these photos will give them some peace at all times because I definitely found happiness with this activity.
During college, I took an audio announcing class and got fascinated with audio production. Now, I’m no announcer, but the concept of doing audio post-production became an activity I got attached to. When I took audio production, I learned the basics of how to clean up audio such as normalizing, clearing background noise, etc. By applying those skills to audio pieces such as radio promos, spoken word, and voice-overs, I found that I can produce any audio recording. Plus, to keep this hobby going, I helped start a food and cultural podcast with my friends before I graduated.
This podcast gives everyone the ability to tell their food and cultural stories. I find it fascinating to listen to people’s backgrounds and different cultures. The thought of people putting aside their differences to talk about a universal topic like food gives me happiness. When I edit the show’s episodes, I really take the time and care to make sure each participant’s track is clear from any ambience, whether or not some parts of an episode is relevant to a topic the panelists are discussing, etc. I didn’t really think that podcasting would be another hobby I enjoy doing, but applying my audio production skills and love of food for this show gave me the ability to show my creative side as an artist. I do hope that people will turn to this show when they’re going through some difficult times, and/or if they want to learn more about food and culture.
It did take a while for me to figure out what kind of activities make me happy but I knew in the end, it’s all worth it. If I had found those hobbies earlier in my life, I don’t know how I would be able to balance that out with school, but I think in the end, these passions came at the right time.
Please Take Your Time
Searching for the right hobbies will take time and it's important to be patient overall. If the process of finding the right activities overwhelms you, remember to take a step back and breathe. Self-care is important and taking a break can help you find your next passion. I did try to rush the process of finding the right hobbies, but in the end, I remained unhappy.
Life is too short to keep doing the things that make us unhappy. If you’re determined to find another passion, don't be afraid to try new things. You never know what will attract you, so it wouldn’t hurt to be open-minded. And just like the opening quote said, pay attention to the things that attract you. Those things can be hints of your next passion(s).
I know you will find the things you are meant to do, and I wish you the best of luck on that.
About the Author:
Ashley Lee is an alumna of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Film with a minor in Journalism and Media Studies. She is a freelance filmmaker and journalist who enjoys traveling, audio production, volunteering at local nonprofits, writing, photography, and spending time with her family. Lee is also a co-host of a local Las Vegas podcast. You can follow her on Instagram @ambivertashleyproductions.