At school, I remember we sometimes had to fill forms about where we lived, what our parents were doing and so on. I had difficulties in filling two fields: what I want to do when I grow up and what are my hobbies.
Because at school, my hobby was: reading books. And later, my hobbies were: reading books and learning languages.
But reading books was boring, it was not a hobby, it was what we did at school. A hobby had to be something fun, something one does outside the school, something that sounds thrilling like sport, travel, music. Most children would write down their extracurricular activity like judo or violin… but I had none, I never have had. When I later complained to my mother that she should have sent me to the piano class she replied that I was the one who didn’t want to go.
Well, sure, I loved to stay at home with my books. This was the world that suited me, in which I felt comfortable, and in fact, in which I had fun. But at school, it is so hard to be sure of one’s feelings. If the others say that staying at home on a sunny saturday afternoon to read the adventures of Arsène Lupin is boring… well it must be. And if I say that I find it fun, well that’s because I’m boring. And that’s how I became the boring child with boring hobbies.
And that’s the same for language learning. I started to love learning languages at highschool but it became a hobby after my university years, when I learned german for fun. At that time, I wasn’t at school anymore, I had discovered that there are a lot of people in the world, that everyone is different, that there is no shame not to fit in because there are so many different ways anyway.
But still, saying that my hobby is to learn german sounded a little weird. Because the word “learning” is still related to school, boring stuff, the thing you have to do but don’t do for fun, and for many people, “learning” sounds like the opposite of “fun”. But I can’t say that my hobby is german…? Would that make any sense? And anyway, my hobby was really learning german, listening to my learning program on the Deutsche Welle every morning, writing new words in my vocabulary notebook, reading the A1 graded readers I had just bought in the german Marissal bookshop in Paris (which sadly closed in 2015).
When I met new people who asked me what my hobbies were and I answered: “learning german” I sometimes had that “poor you” face in return.
Well, now I’m a grown-up and I don’t let myself be much affected by what people think of me. But I guess this feeling I had in my school years comes back when my motivation is low. In those moments, when I don’t feel like studying, when I feel that I am not making any progress and so on (classic loss of motivation stuff), comes the idea that it is no fun, that I should try to find myself a “real” hobby, that my life is boring.
But this feeling is not what I feel. It is what others feel for me. It is what my former classmates thought, it is what some people I met think, it is the voice of others that has made its way into my stream of thoughts.
So to conclude, It may well be that a part of the loss of motivation we experiment now and then is in fact created by what people with conventional way of thinking and conformist ideas on the world think of us. When you manage to sort out what you think about yourself and what others who judge you think about you and don’t let the second one run on the first one, you should find easier to keep hold of that motivation which lead us forward.