A couple of months ago, I took a short trip up California’s coast to the San Luis Obispo area. Several years ago when I was looking at places to transfer to continue my college education, I had considered transferring to Cal Poly SLO for agricultural studies. I chose a different path, but as I shared my former interest with the person on the trip with me, they mentioned that it’s never too late. At this point of my life, I’m tired of school, but once I got back home, I decided for curiosity sake, I’d look up some of the programs I had considered from different colleges. As I read through the University of Washington’s class offerings for a degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation, I started to chuckle. The same classes interest me now that interested me a few years ago that probably would’ve interested elementary-age me who wanted to be a zookeeper when she grew up.
Before we dive in, take a moment to see if there are any interests you had as a child that remain with you to this day. If you can, ask someone, like a parent or family member, who’s known you your whole life what sort of things they noticed you taking a liking to as a child. According to my mom, besides animals, since that’s a relatively generic interest for most children, design was the only other big interest that she recalled of mine. That one has stuck around for me, too.
Alright, let’s get into it!
I’m reading book #4 of my 40 by 30 challenge, which is The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart. The book is focused on homeschooling and how to go about teaching your kids the core subjects, but not making it a boring chore. The author mentions honing in on your child’s interests to use that to dive into the core subjects, but she also talks about when a spark starts. As she says, the flame will continue to burn as long as there’s kindling. Sometimes their interests will burn out on their own, but what’s important is to add as much kindling as you can rather than throwing a bucket of water on it.
I think most of us know what it’s like to have a bucket of water tossed onto our excitement for a subject or new venture. I’m sure many of us have also been the ones dumping the bucket onto someone else’s passions.
It’s really easy to not understand the passion someone feels for something you aren’t one ounce interested in. As Bogart even mentioned in the book, when her son became interested in astronomy, she wished he had taken a liking to something she found more interesting or knew about herself. It doesn’t work that way, though. We’re all multifaceted people with our own unique set of varied interests. Yet, when we share those interests with someone else and we’re met with a complete lack of enthusiasm, we can learn to become tight-lipped and keep the excitement that’s stirring within us to ourselves.
Here’s what I propose. When someone shares with us something that lights up their face, let’s be excited for their excitement. We don’t have to have the same level of enthusiasm as they have, but on a human level, we can be happy for them that there’s something they’re so invested in and inspired by.
If you’re with me on this, let’s consider a few sample questions and statements we can use the next time someone comes to us with that spark in their eye so we don’t turn into the water thrower.
What got you interested in that?
What makes it so important to you?
Teach me something about it.
I can tell it’s something you really enjoy because your face lights up/you start talking quickly/you’re very knowledgeable, etc. It’s nice to see that in someone.
Have you considered doing something related to it? (Career, volunteering, a blog, etc)
Is there anyone in your life that shares your passion for it?
What’s your favorite thing about it?
If you could dedicate your life to it, would you?
Let’s do our best to keep the fire burning in each other and ourselves. I hope if you’ve lost touch with important childhood interests or hobbies, you take the opportunity to rekindle them.