Friday, March 26, 2010

Moi? Boring?

You are already an interesting person. You have deep, dark secrets--which may not include having killed a man in Vegas just to watch him die--but not having learned to drive until last year (when you were thirty) is interesting. (Was it because of some hideous accident you were in as a child? Did you have a horror of a father who berated you when you were trying to learn?). And you have strange hobbies and off-beat beliefs (or off-beat reasons for those rather mainstream beliefs). And at thirty (or however old you are), you’ve done some things in your life that could at least make a good anecdote or two if not a whole book. After all, there have been whole movies made just about larping.

Of course, you could be more interesting than you are. (Or, at any rate, you could seem more interesting than you seem.)

What makes people interesting? I don’t mean being an interesting conversationalist, which I wrote about earlier. What makes you want to find out more about a person? First and foremost: to be interesting, you must be interested. Interested in other people. Interested in the world. Interested in learning new things.

Being Interested

Have Hobbies. Having hobbies gives you something upon which you can find common ground with others. And people are interested in talking with someone who has passion about activities--any activities--passion is infectious. So get out there and find some hobbies!

And, no, sitting around surfing the Web and making contributions to forums to correct people’s factual misstatements is not a hobby. Neither is watching episodes of Babylon 5 for the tenth time. Hobbies are not passive endeavors. This does not rule out watching a TV show as a hobby. If Babylon 5 is merely a passive activity, then all you can share about it will be rehashing plot details from episodes. A passive activity like watching TV becomes a hobby when you have something to say about it that goes beyond the literal retelling of a plot line. For example, can you express why you like it? Can you analyze the series’ plot arc that took multiple seasons to pay off, and how that relates to other (more popular and well-known) shows?

Being able to self-reflect as do the subjects in the documentary “Darcon” makes your hobby accessible and interesting to other people. Others can relate to your enjoyment of larping when you explain it as, for example, a place where your individual efforts make a difference in a way they do not in your day job.

In addition to making you more interesting, pursuing hobbies is a good way to meet new people and gives you fodder for conversation. If you’ve just learned how to snowboard, you won’t be stuck when someone asks you that paralyzing question “What’s new?”

Exercise: If you don’t have any hobbies or want to find a new one, try these exercises. Think back to elementary school. What did you want to be when you grew up? Write down all the careers you thought about having when you were in grade school. Now bring yourself up to the present. If you could pursue five other professions, which would you want to try? Forget whether you have the talent to be a cellist or the drive to be a Wall Street stock broker, write it down. Look at your lists. Did you want to be a senator in fourth grade? That’s a good place to start for finding a new hobby. Maybe there’s a political campaign you could work on. Or maybe there’s some social issue you are opinionated about. Find the group that works on that issue and volunteer.

Which is a nice segue into the topic for next Tuesday: Be Interested in the World at Large.

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