A screenshot of a chart showing the number of books and pages read over one year. Text to the right of the chart says- 2020: My Year in Books. At the beginning of 2020, I set a goal to read 35 books in an effort to get back to reading for pleasure. By June- halfway through the year- I reached my goal. I didn't want to double it, but I wanted to give myself a challenge. December 28, I read my 60th book, with a total of over 17,500 pages read.

On Balancing Work with your Passions

Do you have time for your hobbies?

A few weeks ago, I hosted an AMA (“ask me anything”) over on our Instagram page, giving
prospective fellows a chance to learn more about the fellowship, right from a fellow’s mouth.
Over the course of the session, I received so many thoughtful questions about the fellowship
experience. But that one struck me in particular.

Do you have time for your hobbies?

It felt like a simple answer: yes. Of course I do. But later, I thought about the root of the
question. College seniors everywhere are trying to navigate the tumultuous job market, trying to
figure out how to be a “college graduate,” an “adult,” whatever you wish to call it. Through that,
will they have time to do the things they enjoy? Or will they have to sacrifice the activities and
passions that filled their days at college, just to sit in front of a computer all day?

If you’ve attended an info session or listened to my AMA, then you’ve probably heard me tell
this story, but it gets at the root of who I am and why I joined the fellowship, so I’m going to tell
it again. When I was in the second semester of my senior year and applying to jobs, every adult I
talked to told me I’d hate my first job, that that was okay, that everyone did. That I’d find
something I’d like eventually.

That didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to do something I was excited about, every day.
Something I was good at, like writing, and something that helped people. A tall order.
Working at a nonprofit now, doing a job I enjoy, am good at, and helping people, I understand
how all-consuming the work could be, if you let it. Nonprofits are full of well-meaning
workaholics, who will stay on Slack until the wee hours to get a project done, because they know it
impacts our students. They’ll burn themselves out, empty their cup, for everyone else. Because
they care.

Don’t do that.

Seriously. That’s my advice. Don’t do that.

Don’t let your work become all-consuming. Prioritize your well-being and your passions, you
never know where they may take you in the future. I asked the other fellows about their hobbies
to try to learn a little more about what keeps them busy outside of the fellowship and on the
weekends. Their hobbies run the gamut, from artistic to athletic, and everything in between:

  • Embroidery
  • Volunteer and mentorship
  • Dancing and choreography
  • All-season picnics
  • Cooking (mostly making pizza)
  • Exploring the city
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Running
  • Sewing
  • Making art

and so many more!

As for me, I was playing tennis multiple times a week until COVID hit. Now, I write, make
photographs, and read. You can read about my favorite books of 2020 here and see some of my
other work on my site.

If you take nothing else away from this blog, take this: Make time for your hobbies. Log off at
5pm, or whenever your work day ends. Take mental health days. Burning your candle at both
ends won’t make you a better, more productive worker—it’ll only leave you with an empty
cup, with nothing left to pour into others. Be a full cup. Keep giving, both to others and yourself.

Taylor Reese is the FAO Schwarz Fellow at Year Up in Philadelphia. 

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