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That Ain't Hobby Money

Wednesday July 14, 2021

Cherie writes,

I was reading about your view of interests and hobbies. I know some of my friends don’t like hearing this because they are so dedicated to everything, but I don’t like spending money on hobbies, especially new ones.

I wanted to call this point out a bit, and underline it: I agree!

Sometimes it feels like there’s a LOT of social pressure to upgrade one’s approach to a hobby.

There’s also internal pressure. I think INTJs can really understand this vulnerability with a bit of awareness. For one, we may find ourselves in the passionate-ESFP zone with hobbies:

  • Assess and compare the sensory quality of hobby gear: Quality of build, appearance, feel, sound, etc.
  • Compare yourself against others; Become the best in the hobby, yourself
  • Make an impact on other people
  • Use impactful gear to show you aren’t going to be f***ed with; strut your stuff

Even in really geeky hobbies, there’s all this amazing gear. You name the hobby, and there’s the high-end of it which, yes, hobbyists are buying into.

And then there’s the passionate-INTJ zone backing this up, like:

  • Don’t get caught being dumb; make smart choices from the start so you don’t regret it later
  • Research the best gear to buy, don’t just buy from whatever ad pops up
  • Buy gear that will easily match up against the future contingencies you see with your Ni-vision
  • Maybe buy a couple more just for contingency reasons

Personally, I’m very familiar with this way of looking at hobbies. And even though I still find myself thinking this way, it has also lost a lot of its appeal to me.

I wanted to share an experience that I think demonstrates why…or how…

Here, I Just Upgraded Your Hobby for You

A while back I was participating in an online EDC community. It was fun to share little items, pocket stuff I enjoyed bringing along on a hike or on a trip or whatever.

And one of my relatively new hobby rules is like this: I go cheap and broad with new hobbies, rather than expensive & deep.

So instead of buying the best item in a category, I’ll buy a few good-enoughs at 1/10 the price, and explore how they work differently, learning the ins and outs and the leverage points of each. I found that I like this better overall.

I often find that I like the color of cheaper items better, or they fit my hand better, and they are otherwise good enough or even overkill for what I’m doing.

This led to me sharing a photo of some EDC items, including a knockoff pocket knife. It’s a really pretty blue color and I enjoy it. I also liked that I scouted it out online, like a hunter, finding that perfect medium—the right color, an amazing price, and well-reviewed by a few people who knew the topic deeply.

I got some nice comments from the community, but then really soon after that I received an offer—someone said they wanted to send me the expensive, proper, branded version of that very knife! It’s not cheap, not by a long shot, but they said they had an extra that they would be happy to part with.

In the mail, a few days later, I received TWO branded pocketknives, and a very nice pocket flashlight. And not used at all, but shipped direct from an online store, and in complete original packaging, with a receipt. This person spent a lot of money on a stranger. I was grateful. (I told them I’d pay it forward, and I did)

The Mystery of the Internet Patron

But then it got weirdly complex, thinking about what happened.

What IS it about this situation? It started to bug me.

It was a really nice gesture. But also, thinking about it as I sat with all this brand new, expensive gear in my lap, I had to conclude—it felt VERY awkward.

I could tell that the person who sent me these things was very passionate about their hobby. They clearly wanted other people to also reach, or see, their passion-pinnacle.

But for me it wasn’t that kind of interest.

I have to say that the passion I felt from this generous person went a bit beyond normal and into the creepy zone.

Not that they themselves were necessarily acting super creepy.

But that it reminded me of my own creepy-passionate aspects.

And memories.

Can You Give Away A Passion for Free?

That was it!

It reminded me of this time. Way back, years ago. I moved to a faraway country, and I knocked on tens of thousands of doors.

(Not to brag, but: I can mimic the sound of a 1990s Japanese doorbell running out of its final few seconds of battery power.)

(Well—and I can also mimic the sound of a Japanese housewife being sketched out by the sight of a tall American in a $1 necktie, soaked from head to toe in typhoon moisture and happy to be off the road for now, sorry, moving on to the next door)

I was out there making free offers. With passion.

I’d offer to give people free books out of my backpack, teaching them the mysteries of the universe that science had missed.

And if they didn’t want the free book, how about this free English class?

Or how about a free prayer…?

Well—free for now. From me, it’s free. Yep.

But later, truth be told, if you really get passionate, there’s some really amazing stuff you can spend money on.

Personally I ended up spending 10% of my yearly income on that particular passion project, and even more money than that, as I explored many sub-hobbies within it…for years…

Passion Energy Makes Me Want to go Cheap Sometimes

Passion energy is really amazing. It feels like it ought to be more infectious than it is. It also feels like it should be free.

Here, try some! Isn’t it great?

But it’s kind of scary, too. It can lock you up with backlogs full of meaning or conflict to dissect later on, not to mention the resource-consuming energy highs and energy lows.

So I think that’s why I end up going cheap, for fun. If things don’t have to be that serious, then I don’t want to send my future self any kind of signal that overdoes the passion and makes everything just way too much.

I think that’s also why I abuse this blog a bit, in the sense that I aim for a less-than-passionate outcome.

Quite a few readers have sent me ideas for improvement, awesome suggestions, feedback. All appreciated—they tell me about your interest, for sure.

And yet I have to admit I don’t wanna summon the level of energy required. Not that I’d hate the outcome. But…you could say I don’t want it to be that passionate of an activity.

I want it to be cheap, broad, shallow in its own way.

I’ve probably come to be terrified of passion, at a very deep level. Or at least, key aspects of passion. It’s serious biz.

How about you?

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