This is a story about how I learned to love something I never in a bajillion years thought I would learn. And like every great story, it's about a girl.
I've always been told, in order to get a job interview or a job, you have to have an interesting hobby outside of advertising. The jury is split on whether or not it should be related to your craft or not. Some people told me to write more (hey, look what I'm doing now), and some people told me to do weird shit that has nothing to do with advertising, but could still be considered an art form.
So, after asking several different creative professionals in advertising no one had given me a clear answer on what my hobby should be. I was getting really sick and tired of people telling me different stuff, so I stopped asking peoples opinions and I asked myself, "what do you want to do?"
The problem was, I had no idea. The only thing I knew was that I was in graduate school to learn how to be a copywriter.
I didn't go on some great vision quest to find my inner self. I went swimming.
You know what they say, you always find something when you're not looking for it? Well, that happened to me at the pool. I was swimming with a couple of friends, drinking wine, enjoying the summer in Austin, and out to the pool walked this girl (yes, the aforementioned girl). She had a couple of tattoos (I'm a sucker for tattoos) and introduced herself to us. I'll be honest, I was too busy looking at her tattoos to hear her name. She was apparently the roommate of one of people at the pool with us. Which I took as a good thing because that meant I would hopefully see her again.
A week or so later, I ran into this girl again, this time she had just gotten back from a run and I was heading out for one(we lived across the street from one another, so we ran into each other often). She said we should go running together sometime, and I agreed.
Turns out, this chick likes to do everything, run, hike, bike, rock climb, kayak, wakeboard, snowboard, and most importantly ride horses.
I had varying degrees of experience with everything she liked to do except ride horses. My only experience with a horse is when I was 11 and I tried to feed one and it bit my fingers and wouldn't let go. Let me be clear, I did not like, respect, appreciate or even see the transportational benefits of horses.
So this girl and I would do everything we could together, and then she would go off and ride horses while I played a video game or did homework or read or something.
Then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks, LEARNING HOW TO RIDE HORSES COULD BE ME THING. IT COULD BE MY CONVERSATIONAL TOPIC IN INTERVIEWS. IT COULD BE WHAT SETS ME APART. "What do you mean, this copywriter knows how to ride a horse? This isn't the old west, this information is mind blowing! HIRE HIM IMMEDIATELY." (This is what I think creative directors sound like when reviewing resumes).
So, the next time we ran into each other and I asked if I could come out to the farm with her one day, and maybe get on a horse.
She said no.
I would like to say I was crushed, but I was a little bit more relieved. I was a city boy, I had no business on a farm.
But (there's always a but) a few weeks had passed and someone had borrowed her car and she needed to get to the farm. So, who did she ask for a ride down there? None other than her good activity buddy who happened to live across the street. I happily obliged and we went down to the farm. Being clever, I wore my boots. My $200 Cole Haan boots, but they were the only pair I own (Cole Haan makes and excellent boot. I still own these boots, and they're fucking awesome). She mocked me for my footwear choice.
I was excited, I thought this was my moment to finally learn how to ride a horse. I was incorrect. I wore my boots for no reason! You see, you don't just get on a horses back and start getting a lesson. You have to learn how to act around horses before they will trust you enough to even really get close enough to them to get on their back.
So, for the next 6 months I would go down to the farm with her 2-3 times a week (how I did this on top of grad school and working 30-40 hours a week is beyond me) and learned horse stuff. What the different gear was called, the difference between western and english, the different breeds of horses, and the 7 different colors of brown (seriously, there are at least 7 different colors that are just some shade of brown, but white horses don't exist because they are actually grey. I don't get it).
After those 6 months I was allowed on a horse. It was a terribly foreign experience to me. Imagine getting in a car, but instead of getting in you sit on top, and instead of a steering wheel there is a rope, and the car will get tired and throw you off if you don't ask it to do something properly. I was in over my head, but at least when I died I would know all the gear that I was using upon my death.
It took a long time. A lot of beer bribes, and a lot of patience, and even more offers to drive her to the farm but low and behold. I learned how to ride a horse.
I did more than that though, I learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned how to control my emotions when I failed over and over and over and over again. I learned how to push myself to limits I didn't know existed (yeah, some of those months were cold and I still drove out to the farm and got on the horse). I learned how to control my body language for effectively. I learned that goats will fuck your shit up no matter how secure your fence is (don't believe me? buy a goat). But most of all, I learned something new.
I'm still not done learning how to ride horses, and that fact actively excites me. I get to learn new stuff. And it's awesome.
So, if you've gotten anything out of this long, and ridiculous story, it's that I think everyone should have a hobby outside of their jobs. However, I think it should be something new. Something you've never thought you would learn how to do. Something where you can learn something about yourself in the process, because only then do you grow as a person.
Now, I'm off to my yodeling lesson.