Having so many interests can be both a blessing and a curse. When the pandemic first started and everyone was asked to minimize social interactions and only go out to buy your essential needs, it wasn’t a difficult adjustment for me to make. Being more introverted than extroverted, it was easy to stay inside and keep busy with what I had at my disposable. TV, books, video games, and writing had kept me occupied for the last two years and made weathering the uncertainty of a new virus we knew nothing about easier to manage. With plenty to do at home, the hard part was figuring out how to make equal time for each hobby.
Between the constant reminders of our ecosystem on the verge of collapse and the horrifying conflict currently happening between Ukraine and Russia, all these unknowns can be crushing and devastating if you don’t have something to distract you. No matter how temporary it is.
Escaping into a game, book, or TV show offers a mental break from all the worrying our current events has brought us. Constantly reading about how new variants might derail our slow emergence back to normal, or how likely the world will be pulled into a new world war isn’t healthy for anyone. It’s difficult to turn off our brains when it’s so easy to keep doomscrolling in an attempt to somehow predict what will happen next. Where do we go from here?
Humans have never been good with uncertainty. We like when we can see a path forward, a clear direction we’re heading in. It’s hard to think of a time when every day doesn’t feel like we’re waiting for the apocalypse to happen. While I like staying informed about the world around me, I also know it’s good to take a break. Having the hobbies I have are a way to stay sane in an increasingly scary and out of control world.
What’s nice about playing a game or reading a book is we get to leave our current world behind while getting lost in a different one. With a game you can feel like you’re in control of a situation and even get to be a hero, or you can read about a character dealing with their own set of problems. There’s a comfort in escapism and it’s certainly needed now more than ever.
I consider myself lucky to have a first world problem of deciding what to do with my mental break time. Not everyone, especially the Ukrainians right now, have that luxury. For some, living in constant fear isn’t something they can just “take a break from” even if they wanted to. That’s the reality they’re forced to deal with every single day.
Over the last three years, I have made it a habit to put everything into perspective. Instead of complaining about my first world problems, I take a moment to appreciate being in the position I’m in. As they say, it could be so much worse and you could be standing in the place of someone whose whole life has been destroyed overnight.
Our hobbies can be our greatest coping mechanism for a troubling world. It’s wonderful to have when you have the means and the access. But before I escape from reality for an hour or two, I don’t forget to stop and be grateful for having such comforts. To be able to pick up a controller and traverse a cool open world, or slip into a good book like a pair of comfy slippers when I can’t deal with the real world right now. Not everyone is so lucky.