Of the importance of hobbies

If you’re in any way like me, the last few days have left you in a bit of a funk. Lockdowns, curfews, teacher being beheaded, Trump, Covid-19, 4 days of miserable weather, Brexit… I really feel like we can’t catch a break these days. This article is due in 2 hours and I’m only starting now because my brain is just not in the right mind. Yes, my brain has a mind of its own, and right now I feel it needs distractions, and that reminded me of something that we used to have until what… 8 months ago. Something long forgotten called hobbies. 


Mind you, don’t go putting them on your CV, unless they’re relevant for the job you’re applying for, you’re just opening yourself to creating biases. 


Having hobbies not just to pass the time because there’s nothing to do, but to actually enjoy. I miss that. 


For the past 3 years, I’ve been translating comics into English for fun. You can check the comics here: maliki.com; you're in for a treat. It’s been great to have something recurring. Every Monday evening, I’m translating stories, I travel to a different world and learn new words and new things because Maliki has a tendency to be lyrical or to go in depth into biology vocabulary. Between you and I, it’s also been a great way to cut short lame dates. Some people do crosswords puzzles, some do Sudoku or play Scrabbles. I translate stories – that’s my brain hobby and I give it full credit for my ability to write these blog posts. English is not my native language so practicing writing  (more than emails, you know) at a certain level every week is an amazing way to build your own skills. 


I usually also have a “body hobby”: martial arts. I started with Japanese Ju-jitsu as a teenager, and for 9 years, come hail or high water, I was in the dojo every Monday evening (no idea what’s with Mondays). I think I missed training 3 times: once because I had a really bad bout of the flu and the others because of minor surgery (no-one wants you to pop your stitches on the tatami).  


What did I gain from that hobby? 

Well on the obvious side, anyone trying to jump me in a dark alley will get a nasty surprise (serves them right). I also gained a brown belt and ruined my left knee, but most importantly I gained resilience and learnt the value of being consistent with your efforts and that has served me every single day of my professional life. 

A lot of the time at practice is spent being thrown on the ground by your partner and then throwing your partner on the ground. Again. And again. And again. While not getting either you or your partner hurt. The tatami burns on your feet and hands every week.  


Seems really hardcore when I put it like that, but looking back, this is probably what made me the resilient person that I am today and what enabled me to be successful in an industry where so many don’t succeed. Of the 5 junior recruiters that started at the same time as I did, at the end of the first 6 months, I was the only one left, and I never looked back. 


These days, I’ve traded Ju-jitsu for Krav Maga (for no better reason that location convenience) but it’s the same deal: precision, resilience and consistency. Three skills I use every day at work. And while this year, I’ve been badly deprived of training – let’s be honest there, when you can’t control anything, hitting and kicking people with pads is hugely beneficial for your mental health – the traits I have developed through martial arts help me cope with all the changes and crappy stuff 2020 has brought us and stay efficient at work. Even if that efficiency means working on mind-numbing tasks (that still need to get done) while I get myself out of that funk. 

And because, I really can't get the picture to display properly, here is it. Me, at the tender age of 18, before the 1st training after passing my green belt exam.
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