Sometimes we just love a certain subject, thing, or activity. When I was in college, I was a business major. I loved my literature class. I had notes in the margins of my large textbook. The color and feel of it resonated with me. Abstract cover art was the hook. The stories were great and gave me much to analyze. Even now, it astounds me how a collection of short stories can move me. Authors I don’t recognize present unique tales and perspectives, especially across cultures. The world has plenty of writers and filmmakers, too, but I digress.
The English Contractor
I wasn’t an English major initially because my dad said the world had an excess of those. That included teachers. As a business major, I liked what was involved. It used the administrative skills that got me jobs. I imagined being an independent contractor in demand, sporting pastel suits and a briefcase. Whatever I did would succeed. What’s more, I would like it.
Math had been the bane of my existence for years during K-12. Every time I found my rhythm, it wasn’t because I liked math. It was to avoid consequences. I regarded no principal or detention the way I feared my parents. School staff and faculty—not my parents—were nice, polite, and gentle. Math was another chore.
Art Bandages for Geometry
I adored high school geometry. It wasn’t like algebra. Proofs occasionally drove me crazy. They wanted me to prove the obvious. Sometimes my answers were wrong, and I couldn’t always see why. Then I took Algebra II, a haze of more mathematics than I could ever need. My painting and drawing class prevented impending insanity. Art healed better than aloe vera.
Math Genius Jokes
Once the math was under control, I got a crazy idea. Again, it was from my father. “You could be a mathematician.” He had (and still has) such high hopes for me. Being good at math could work well. I changed my major to math.
When the Faking Pays Off
As a result, I had to take precalculus. I was a sophomore. As a freshman, I barely passed trigonometry because my freedom rivaled my academic discipline. There was an unspoken old-school mantra: “Take as many math and English courses as possible.” No one told me that its success in the workforce required a major in one or both. I hated the volume of precalculus homework for two to four points per assignment.
Discipline v. Love
I don’t remember when I bought the book on mathematicians. It explained the differences between applied math and pure math. All of the people featured loved one or the other. I didn’t love math; I was just good at it. I mastered things because I learned subjects well. What was wrong with exploiting my math? Did I have the proper motivation? I eventually got rid of the book. The square peg-round hole feeling appeared whenever I browsed it.
Distractions v. Hobbies
My point is that I had varied interests during the pursuit of a degree. Those distractions could be culled into hobbies. I admire those who take a topic so seriously that they develop them. That’s despite compensation, which, for hobbies, may be zero. They can be done for the joy or satisfaction they bring. Either way, a hobby is something done for oneself.