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Ode to Uncool Interests

You know what’s lame about being an adult besides having to pretend to be listening when someone talks about mortgages and not finding light-up sneakers in your size? The expectation that all your hobbies and interests have to be useful and get you somewhere and that you can’t just like something without having to be the expert of it. Like you can’t just walk around having uncool interests if they’re not simultaneously bringing bread on the table.

I want to put a stop to that.

Let’s talk about ‘special interests’ first

If you’ve never heard the term ‘special interest’, you should know it’s not just any old interest that someone can have. Having very strong interests that surpass what is considered “normal” is one of the characteristics of autism, and these are called special interests because they are generally more in-depth and intense than neurotypical people’s interests.

People with ADHD (like me!) can also have special interests in the forms of hyperfixations, but they are often a lot more short-living than with people on the autism spectrum.

Remember how I just implied how much easier it is to be interested in unusual things if you’re a child? It kind of doesn’t apply if you’re a little too weird and intense. So you can imagine that the pressure to like normal things in normal amounts is especially difficult for people who already have trouble navigating the neurotypical world. So much of autistic behaviour is discouraged that it’s heartbreaking when something that gives you so much joy, like talking about your special interest, is seen as somehow inferior.

The world is so big and beautiful, full of wonderful things, and we should give everyone the right to experience and appreciate it in its entirety. If not, what is even the point of living?

You don’t need to be good at something to enjoy doing it

How many times have you said that you can’t sing, draw or dance? And how many of those times were you genuinely physically unable to do so? Perhaps you just meant that you’re not good at it, which is why you don’t bother doing it, or if you do, you definitely don’t tell people about it.

I’m still a little salty about something that happened when I was 14, and I know that’s ridiculous, but I’m still going to share it here because I believe it’s relatable. I was at a summer camp and I was talking to this other girl and mentioned that I draw comics and other stuff, and she immediately asked me if I was on DeviantArt (I can’t believe it already existed, guys, this was back in 2003.) and if she could see what kind of stuff I draw. I said I don’t even know what that is, but later that day I showed her a self-portrait that I drew, and you know what she said? “Well… I’m sure your comics are good.”

via GIPHY

Less than a year after that I stopped drawing. I had friends who were real artists and I just wasn’t good enough.

Now, though, I would like to take a stand for the hobbies that we’re not great at and that we’re not turning into yet another side hustle. I want to send love to all your uncool interests that you don’t have a degree in or you’re not making a podcast about. I want us to be free to be curious and to have some goshdarn fun.

It’s okay to be uncool

I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I’m putting myself or others down by calling our interests uncool. Uncool doesn’t mean bad, it’s just something that isn’t popular, glamorous or necessarily very fascinating to others. None of those things are bad because life isn’t actually a popularity contest – we’re here to make friends and collect cool rocks.

Sometimes something that isn’t considered very cool ends up being popular, like superheroes or obsessing over sourdough bread, but I would still say that there are limits to how you’re supposed to enjoy these things. Mainly, if you’re spending money to do it and consuming media made by others, it’s cool. Watching Marvel movies is very normal and probably cool, but writing fanfiction about Thor might be a little different. (Mind you, these aren’t my personal opinions. I think watching ice hockey on TV is super duper lame but it’s still one of my country’s favourite pastimes – I just can’t control what the public thinks is cool.) This is where being good at something also comes to play because drawing fan art is cool if you’re really good at it and you either sell your work or just share it on social media for thousands of likes, but if you’re not actually very talented and you keep doing it anyway, that’s a little less cool.

Do you know a child or a teenager who shares their art or poems that aren’t very good? Let them. Encourage them. They might eventually become better, but even if they don’t, they deserve to do something that makes them happy even if it’s nothing that others get enjoyment from. Crappy art is still an expression of the soul.

My uncool interests

Did I write this post to inspire others or did I do it just to talk about my own interests? We’ll never find out. I would like to tell you about different kinds of willows, though!

Ode to Uncool Interests - why we should enjoy our interests even if they're not cool, useful or profitable.

This here is a white willow, slightly different from silver willow in that its leaves are covered in silvery “hairs” only on one side, while silver willows are silvery on both sides. I always liked these trees due to their magical nature, but I recently got kind of obsessed with reading about different types of willows when I googled what is this tree that I kept seeing my dad talk about. (He talks about chopping wood all year long, we are both very fun at parties.) Turned out that it was a subspecies of crack willow, though I’m still yet to find out how it’s different from the regular crack willow.

Those crack willows, though. Apparently, they CRACK really easily, which is why the scientific name for them is salix fragilis, i.e. that b*tch just keeps falling apart on us and we should name it accordingly. This lead me on a tangent on scientific names for plants and animals that I haven’t quite returned from yet, and the point of all this rambling is that I get really excited thinking about and researching this subject for no proper reason at all. I’m not going to study biology or forestry, and I’m not starting a podcast to discuss nature in Finland.

Other things that I’m really interested in right now are British Sign Language, Victorian crochet patterns and Little House on the Prairie. Just thinking about these things fills my heart with joy, and that’s something that most things in adult life are lacking.

Ode to Uncool Interests - why we should embrace our uncool interests and hobbies.

You. Unleash your uncool interests and thrive. You are worth it.


What kind of interests do you have that you rarely share with others? Do you like to learn things just for fun? Let me know in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Ode to Uncool Interests”

  1. Felicia Blaedel

    Oh my goodness this is so relatable!!!!! Cheered when I read it. After a tough stress /depressive episode some years ago I started doing all the things I deemed weren’t worthy of my time because I wasn’t good at them, like drawing, dancing and skateboarding. And yeah I have a special interests (as you know, I recently found out I’m autistic). Some that have lasted since I was a child and some that I’ll have for a shorter but still intense period of time. Some that have lasted a long time is religion, psychology, dinosaurs, poppies (I wished for a blue poppy for my tenth birthday 😂), words and languages (I used to make my own and I loved my different dictionaries), Beatrix Potter, Jane Austen, HP, collecting old black and white photography, collecting stuff like flowers to press, pebbles and sea shells, reading about cats and red pandas. I was not cool 😂 I’ve learned to embrace that now. I’m also much better at relaxing with a colouring book or some play dough without feeling stupid about it now. Love this post and your current interest are fascinating too.

    1. I’m so glad you liked the post 💖 If you ever have any dinosaur or cat facts you want to share, I’m here for it!!

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