My Dark Secret

World of Warcraft HobbyI have a dark secret, one certain members of my family feel should never be admitted to. It’s just too embarrassing. Too pathetic. Too geeky. It marks me as a social misfit.

Because at first I didn’t know anyone else who shared my dark secret (other than the man who’s now my husband—but that’s another story), I figured they must be right. I indulged in private, never admitting to anyone what I was doing. And I’ll never forget the patronizing looks and snickers that came whenever I was caught.

You see, on weekdays, I’m a mild-mannered writer, working on grant proposals and magazine articles and correcting grammar. On weekends, however, I don my armor, draw my sword, and become a Draenei paladin named Micaah, slaying monsters in World of Warcraft.

For me, playing means stepping into a story. I customized Micaah from her race (species) and class (what she can do in the game) to her hair, skin, and face. (I think she looks a little like Halle Barry.) Each quest is unique, whether I’m dousing fires in a village, harvesting herbs to make medicine, or killing naga. The quest givers tell you why they’re sending you on this particular mission and what they’ll reward you with if you succeed. And the graphics are incredible.

The longer I played my game, the more I started to question why this particular pastime was less worthwhile than any other. Why should I be ashamed?

It wasn’t illegal, immoral, or otherwise harmful to me or anyone else. It’s less expensive than most sports. I can play with others, giving it a social aspect, or independently, allowing for much needed “alone time.”

And everyone needs a hobby.

A hobby, by definition, is an interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. I could spend my time on something more acceptable. I could have played soccer or volleyball instead, but I don’t like sports and I find them stressful because I’m afraid of taking a ball to the face. Even if I played a sport, it couldn’t be called a hobby for me. I’m basically a hospital visit waiting to happen.

So I had to ask: Why should anyone be able to tell me that the hobby I enjoyed, that helped me relax, isn’t good enough? If I want to collect antique lunchboxes or learn to play the accordion, I should be able to do so without being afraid of what people will think.

A hobby that you’re forced into and don’t enjoy isn’t a hobby at all. Shouldn’t we each be able to choose the hobby that’s right for us?

What hobby do you hide? Do you collect coins/stamps/vintage toys? Play croquet? Are you a closet gamer like me? Why do you love your dark secret of a hobby?

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