The magic of impractical passions: how making time for frivolity keeps us close to our true selves

Laura Amador-Toro


Laura Amador-Toro

The Sidekick editor-in-chief Kelly Wei has discovered a renewed importance in making room for passions. “I feel as though I’ve finally begun to fill in the gaps between my outside and inside,” Wei said. Photo by Laura Amador-Toro.

Kelly Wei, Editor-in-Chief

I’ve often felt, rather than growing into the girl I am today, I plucked her out from between the folds of a crisp, clinical pamphlet and put her on.


Before GPAs and SAT scores littered each of my classmates’ priorities – including my own – I was unafraid of failure and disapproval. I was viciously creative, hilariously indignant and remarkably disobedient – and though I achieved high marks and successfully tested into the Gifted and Talented program, I didn’t know to care yet.


But by middle school, it had finally dawned on me: I was what they called smart, and it was a name I liked. After all, it earned me my peers’ admiration and teachers’ approval. It put numbers on my report card that made my parents smile.


Instead of unapologetically dedicating my time toward things I loved like I once did, I began sacrificing hours of my time to study. I quit theater to make room for school. I quit my speech team to prepare for the SAT. I stopped raising my hand in class to ask questions I was genuinely interested in, too busy scrawling down notes and memorizing formulas, or in fear of evoking my classmates’ mirth for not understanding a concept.


Don’t get me wrong. I value my academics – and for all the fun I had as a troublemaker child, I’m grateful to be a more mature and considerate individual now. However, in conjunction with the maturity I gained, I lost courage and passion.


Last semester, I found myself neck-deep in the culmination of all my hard work. I had studied and crammed and cried for four years – now here I was, standing at the edge of tomorrow, with nothing but pocketfuls of promise and potential.


And I was utterly devastated.


I spent endless nights drafting college application essays. My weekends passed in a blur of working, volunteering and either catching up or getting ahead on homework. I was exhausted, like many of my peers – but worse, I felt totally empty doing everything that should have given me a sense of pride or accomplishment.


So, last November, sitting in the library on a Friday night without a drop of energy left in my body to push out another essay, I took a step back to reconnect with my past.


In a spur of the moment decision, I closed out all my tabs, and opened a new one to the online blogging platform Tumblr.


Group writing comprises of an interactive community of literary enthusiasts who create original characters and work together to write a story. I first found this platform when I was only 12.


Through it, I have curated a tight-knit community of people just like me: writers, storytellers and all-around fiction fans. We are separated by time zones and countries, but joined through our mutual willingness to write into ungodly hours of the night and spend entire weekends on Skype discussing plot points.


Several years ago, I said goodbye to this community, choosing to prioritize my schoolwork over something I loved, but something ultimately not conducive to acing my classes, getting into a reputable college or forging a successful career.


Now, the depth of my own unhappiness finally became obvious to me – as did what I needed to do.


For the rest of November, through Christmas and into the New Year, I committed to writing for personal fun on a daily basis, in conjunction with handling my usual responsibilities.


Sitting down everyday after school to grind out 800 to 1,000 words hasn’t always been easy, especially when many of my college applications were to be submitted around the same time. I can honestly say I’ve never written more intensively than I have these past three months, for both my personal enjoyment and academics.


Choosing to take on a time-consuming hobby has also inevitably affected the way I schedule my commitments.


There have been more late nights, for sure. Sometimes, I want to write online more than finish my homework. Yet, simultaneously, having something to come home to each night has also made me a much happier person and given me motivation to complete my responsibilities without burning out.


There is value in simply that: happiness. I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter, if making fictional characters and chatting with online strangers won’t raise my SAT score. It’ll make me laugh, and remind me of how exciting it is to be alight with passion for something, and color each day a little brighter.


I feel as though I’ve finally begun to fill in the gaps between my outside and inside. Though the process hasn’t been a walk in the park, I’m finding a happy medium between the ambitious, hard-working student I have grown into, and the unabashed, imaginative girl I used to be.


Follow Kelly @kellylinwei