Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 25, 2024

Why do we give up our passions as we get older?

By JORDAN BRITTON | November 16, 2017


ince I could pick up a pencil, I have always loved to draw. Unfortunately, since I graduated high school five and a half years ago (holy crap I’m old), my involvement in the visual arts has declined.

It would be easy to blame my self-imposed separation from art on the trials and tribulations of college life, but that would be dishonest. Quite frankly, aside from the initial adjustment period during my freshman year, college had little to no effect on my desire or ability (time-wise) to draw.

Over the years I’ve managed to produce a few drawings here and there. Since high school I’ve averaged two small drawings a year. Two years ago, I even considered transferring from Hopkins to MICA to pursue my passion. Still, my commitment to art has waned year by year.

On more than one occasion, I questioned why I continuously allow something so important to me to slip through my fingers. Why am I giving up something that I claim to love when I don’t have to?

I’m sure many of you have hobbies or pastimes that once filled nearly every waking moment of your life, but as you’ve grown older and matured, they fill only memories. Some may say this is an unfortunate consequence of entering adulthood.

I beg to differ.

What I love about drawing is the way in which it pushes me to deconstruct the surrounding world. Lines, curves and edges pop out at me as I recreate them on paper. Faces stop being faces and become an assortment of textures and shapes, paradoxically arranged in chaotic yet precise ways.

While drawing, no detail is unimportant, no matter how small. That’s what I love most — the little details.

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Nothing reinforces this idea more than spending hours trying to draw a single eye or trying to get the proportions between the nose and the lips just right.

I specifically enjoy drawing people with particularly expressive faces. Mapping out each detail of someone’s smile or furrowed brow creates a sense of closeness between artist and subject.

You learn a lot from staring at someone’s face for hours on end. You notice things about their face that you might not otherwise. This could mean noticing a small freckle above their lip or noticing that someone has uneven eyes.

Beyond teaching me to notice the details, drawing teaches me discipline and patience. If I want to create something beautiful, then I need to be able to focus for hours. Additionally, I cannot spend that time getting frustrated over every little misstep along the way.

I could go on and on about all the things I’ve learned from drawing and what I love about it, but none of this answers the question: Why am I giving up something that I claim to love?

I believe I’ve separated myself from art because I’ve stopped believing in its value. Over the past few years, I have increasingly put all my focus on my future career and the skill sets that will get me there.

I stopped putting effort into the things that I did not believe would benefit me financially or career-wise.

In my shortsighted assessment of the necessities of life, I have failed to acknowledge what drawing does for me. Aside from being a fun hobby, drawing is my meditation. It’s my time to relax and center myself.

Drawing not only allows me to express myself but also allows me to better myself. It has value, and I have come to finally recognize that.

Age and maturity may have facilitated my separation from art; but now, age and maturity are opening my eyes to the importance of holding onto things I love.

I have decided to stop letting my love slip away and to hold onto it tight. I have decided to draw again.

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