Learning to Play Golf (and the Importance of Hobbies)
Chronic illness can seemingly define you in the sense that it takes away a lot of the hobbies and activities that help create your sense of self. As someone who lied about her age to seem older for the sole purpose of joining a gym early, having to abruptly stop all activities when I got ill was extremely devastating. I was used to being incredibly active and loved the feeling I’d get from pushing myself while in a particularly hard workout. Now I’m overly cautious during every workout that I DON’T push myself too hard by accident so I don’t end up crashing for the following 3 days as a result.
A couple years ago an ex-boyfriend made a completely innocent comment one night on the phone about my lack of active hobbies. I was devastated and in his eyes, completely over reacted to this throw away comment. But it held so much weight to me because I knew how much I loved to be active in the past and I hated potentially being viewed as lazy. Obviously when he heard how upset I was he explained that’s not how he meant it at all and he completely understood given my situation, but it made realize how much I missed having that type of activity in my life. I used to take spin class every chance I got and while I am in no place to adopt that as a hobby again, I wanted to find something way less grueling while still being somewhat physical.
I sort of out of the blue picked golf to be an interest. It fit all my requirements of being something that got me out of the house, something I could do alone, and something I could do even if I wasn’t feeling particularly great that day. My dad had a set of clubs that he never used and I asked one of my friends who played to give me some basic pointers so I could practice on my own. In the first few months I would try to go a couple times per week, leaving the driving range way more frustrated than when I entered. As someone who considers myself mildly coordinated, I have never looked so ungraceful in my life. I bounced up when I swung and my arms were pointing in all the wrong directions. Lets just say golf is much harder than it looks on TV. The line of men swinging perfectly around me made me want to hide in a hole to practice until I got good enough to be around the “real” golfers.
I got over my weird fear of having eyes on me and in a few weeks time, started to love my time on the driving range. While it’s not a typical workout of sorts, for someone who is slowly trying to be upright more and work their muscles, it’s the perfect leisurely activity. I would leave with sore shoulders and thighs and felt proud of my developing hobby and simultaneous mini workout.
What I realize from adding golf to my schedule is how important it is to have things in your life that are your own, even if it looks different from what your life used to be or from what you imagined it would look like now. Granted, I’m not leaving the gym pouring sweat and absolutely exhausted any more, but I leave feeling accomplished, de-stressed and proud of myself for getting out there. Going to the driving range has proved to be equally beneficial to my head as it is for my body; I always seem to stay very present while hitting balls, which is not always the way my brain works. It’s been a nice reminder of how important it is to identify as more than just your medical condition.