Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Enjoying Hobbies Post-Diagnosis

            There are many things that occur after becoming sick, some of them are immediate, and some of them take longer to digest. One of the things that took me longer to digest was my newfound lack of hobbies. Before becoming sick, I probably would have told you I didn’t like to do anything. This was partly because I was a 16 year old, and partly because I honestly just never paid much attention to the things I did enjoy doing. Ironically, I was one of the few people who enjoyed exercising. One of the elective classes I took in grade eleven had been completely devoted to working out; pilates, yoga, aerobics, cardio, and everything else. We had dance instructors come in, mock boot camp work outs, mini marathon training sessions, field trips to hot yoga studios, and more. By the time twelfth grade started, I was sick.
            A lot of the other hobbies I had included being active as well. I really loved walking; long walks, and I walked as quickly as I could at all times, to all places. I also liked running once in a while. I never went for runs alone, and never really picked it up, but I secretly enjoyed running around the track before class as a warm-up for gym. It was my favourite. I also loved swimming, but about 20 minutes in I’d always turn blue and be unable to stop my shivering. I could never understand why before. I also loved brain teasers, whether it was a trick question, or just finally figuring out my math homework, I loved challenging myself to learn more and expand my thinking.
            Those might not seem like very tough hobbies to lose, but for me, they were all I had in the end. To be quite honest, I didn’t even realize I was giving them up at the time. I just knew I was too sick to do anything, and I was focused on fixing that. At some point, it occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t going to be fixed. Around that point, it also occurred to me that I’d have to find a way to continue living my life, and that it would have to be completely different from everything I knew if it was going to be successful. So I started finding new things to occupy my time, when I had the energy to do them.
            The first thing I started doing was completely incidentally. I had just made a new friend, and the day after my birthday, her and her father took me for a quiet drive through the countryside. Both her and her father had an interest in photography; they had a good eye for unique shots. She let me borrow her camera for the day, and essentially I just fooled around and took photos of whatever I found interesting. At the beginning of the day, I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into. By the end of the day, I was completely in love with photography. I had taken a few shots that I just absolutely loved, and this was surprising to me. In tenth grade I had taken a photography class, and barely passed. I had no interest in it. Two years later, there I was, dying to get out and take more photos.  Now, I collect each and every photo opportunity I can. This is a hobby I hope to someday turn into my career, something I can do mostly from home, and something I can express my creativity through and still potentially make some money off of. I don’t expect much out of it; honestly, I just think it’s better to be working towards something.  

            The second hobby I developed is really more of a passion. I was enrolled in fashion twelfth grade for my elective. Unfortunately, this was the year I got sick, so I attended maybe 15 classes the entire year. Do you know what you learn in 15 classes when the program is 10 months long? Not much. I did, however, happen to make a dress and learn the basics of a sewing machine. I did all of this at home, with no instruction, and no idea what I was doing. Despite how I made that sound, I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing when it comes to sewing. I do, however, absolutely love fashion sketching. (No, I’m not any better at that either, although croquis help exponentially). Eventually I ran into online courses, where I took grade eleven fashion and grade twelve fashion separate semesters. This is where I learned about inspirations, croquis’, fashion lines, famous designers, influences, forms, shapes, fabrics, and more. Now, when my hands/wrists aren’t in too much pain, I sketch for as long as I can remain focused on the task. I now have two binders full of sketches that I hope to someday turn into outfits. My favourites are dresses.

            Another hobby I’ve really come to love is planning and/or designing. This is probably because I’m somewhat of a control freak, and since becoming sick, I’ve learned there is not much left in my control. As you can imagine, this stresses me a little. So here I am, now willing to plan or organize just about anything, because it fulfills me to be able to turn nothing into something, or organize chaos and provide peace for somebody. Currently, I’m planning one of my closest friend’s baby showers. (And I’m honestly probably going overboard, but hey, that’s what I’m here for). This is also another hobby I’ve considered turning into a career. I decided at some point that if I ever get healthy enough to hold a job down, or attend college, it will be for business and event planning. Should things go really well, I’d love to own an event planning and photography business someday. Wishful thinking.
Now, with those listed, there are some hobbies I had before that I’ve had more time to pay attention to now. Mainly, reading and writing. As you can clearly tell, I’ve started a blog. For all of my posts combined, including this one, that totals 11,436 words, or 54,040 characters. (Did your eyes just get as tired as mine did?) Aside from this blog, I read. A lot. In the past 8 weeks or so, I’ve read 11 books. I’m currently on the 12th. (Books are all listed below). Assuming I finish the 12th book this week, that will be a total of 4,992 pages. Or, approximately 624 pages a week. (Honestly, do I not have anything better to do?) (Not really). See, the trouble with me reading is this: once I start, I cannot stop. At least, not until there is no more book to read. But then once I finish a book, I want to keep reading, so I just find another book to read. And so on and so forth. That is how I managed 4,992 pages in 8 weeks. Do I get a ribbon yet? (Totally kidding.)
·         City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
·         The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare
- Clockwork Angel
- Clockwork Prince
- Clockwork Princess
·         The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
·         If I Stay by Gayle Forman
·         Where She Went by Gayle Forman
·         Looking for Alaska by John Green
·         Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
·         Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
·         Paper Towns by John Green
·         An Abundance of Katherine’s by John Green (currently reading)

This summer, I happened to step out of my comfort zone, and coincidentally, found I have another hobby: modeling. Now, this is not a hobby I ever anticipated myself enjoying, and it did not start out smoothly. I absolutely do not call myself a model, and I don’t think I ever would unless I was legitimately making money off of shoots and/or signed by an agency, something I have no intention of pursuing. However, in May, a local boutique named Gloss ran a competition called Gloss Top Model. This is something they’ve done every year since 2011, and every year I’ve watched with excitement and voted for my favourites.


Rowena Rodrigo Photography

I can only assume I was experiencing some kind of crazy fever that took over me when I decided to put myself in the running, but somehow it worked out for me. I made it through to Gloss Top Ten, and I was honestly terrified. I told myself when I entered it was all for fun, and I tried my hardest, but I told myself I wouldn’t get anywhere. So I didn’t prepare. Then I received a message after the interviews, telling me I made the top ten and group photos would be two days from the day I received the message. I told myself it wouldn’t be a big deal because I knew the photographer, so it would just be like hanging out. And to a point, it was. Except there were nine other absolutely gorgeous girls there (including Gloss Top Model 2013) and I couldn’t help but feel like I totally didn’t belong.

Natalie Brenner Photography

Things got worse when I realized I actually had to pose in front of these beautiful women, and even more humiliating when I learned pretty much all of them had previous modelling experience. I had my first “real” shoot shortly after that, and I have to credit the photographer for making me feel comfortable in front of the camera. We spent probably two hours just “hanging out” and I can honestly say I love each and every photo she took of me. I was stunned when I saw them – since when could I model? Needless to say, there have been a few shoots since then, and each and every one has just been more fun. I even find myself relaxing and laughing during photos now, whereas before I was super stiff and closed off.  To my awareness, Gloss will be picking their winner for 2014-2015 in October, and while I don’t think I’ll be advancing, I had an incredible experience and I would definitely do it again.

Model: Aleia Ally, Chung Photography

To sum up this post, I really just wanted to help out the rest of you who may be in a rut currently. I know there was a time, and still many times I find, where I feel as if there’s nothing I’m doing and that I’m not succeeding in anything. I want you all to know that isn’t the case at all. Each and every one of you is succeeding at being alive, and that is so much harder than we give credit for. On top of that, each of you has your own skill set and goals for life. Every day I try to participate in at least one of my hobbies, whether it’s taking a walk or just reading a book. (Walks to the kitchen or bathroom, totally count). I encourage all of you to find a hobby you can continue learning about over the years and something you can grow through.

Rest easy spoonies, xo.

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1 comment:

  1. Love your blog :) I have one as well: