Keep your interests varied

By Jeffrey Ayers

Collegian file photo
Collegian file photo

I am perhaps the ficklest person on the planet. My interests and passions change almost daily. One day I’m in love with learning about the economic history of France, and the next I’m watching five different documentaries about how video games are made. I could be listening to the entire White Stripes catalogue one day, and the next I’m spamming the repeat button on the Black Keys’ “El Camino” for hours.

My life goals change rabidly as well. If I want to become a teacher one week, you can bet that next week I’m going to be looking into software engineering or data analysis jobs. I can never, ever seem to set my mind on something that I love. In the span of two years in college, I have switched majors three times and thought about adding at least a dozen different minors and double majors to my workload. My advisor really hates me.

This seemingly incomprehensible attention switching is seen as a weak point and an odd trait to many people. I thought the same thing. All of my friends seemed to have clear-cut passions. They could do the same activity for months and not get bored with it. In fact, most people can do this. Everybody seems to have a sport, hobby, club or activity that preoccupies them and keeps them entertained, but I don’t.

I always hated this part of me. I wished I could find something I liked and just stick with it for more than a few months or even weeks without falling out of love. But over the years I began to realize that this was more of a strength than a weakness.

First of all, I rarely get bored with learning. Ever. As soon as one interest ends I immediately latch on to another. Last week it was the Patriots; I began learning all of the stats of the players, their names, the formations and how they played. This week, it’s all about probability and statistics. I know it’s random, but I’m never ever bored. I love it. Whenever a new interest comes along, I dive into it and spend hours learning. Because of this, I have picked up so much random and useless information over the years. Did you know that almost of all the hamsters in the world are descendent from a single litter of 11?

I also have gained an appreciation for things I otherwise wouldn’t have. During my interest in guitars, I gained an appreciation for musicians. During my fascination with boxing, I gained a newfound respect for fighters. When I become obsessed with various types of species, I’ve noticed that I subsequently would look at every animal as if it is a treasure, which they all are. My perspectives have without question changed for the better, and I don’t think being totally in love with one thing and one thing alone would have had the same affect.

Perhaps the best advantage of having this lack of focus is the amount of different skills I have picked up over the years. Whilst diving into the life of being an author I became better at writing. During my obsession with airplanes I learned how to fly planes and even got my solo pilot’s certificate. That time I fell in love with cooking I learned all sorts of yummy recipes and tricks I still use to this day.

Over my life I have met quite a few others like this. I call them “interest drifters:” people who find something, latch onto it and then drop it entirely. If you are one of these people, you are not alone. I have learned to see the positives in this, and I think everyone else should as well. I strongly believe that everyone who feels this way should simply accept it and go with the flow. Never settle on one thing forever because if you do, you may be very bored.

Jeffrey Ayers is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]