board game
Photo by Karthik Balakrishnan on Unsplash

I have read that if you want to decide what to do with yourself look at what you enjoyed when you were 13.  This can give you hints as to your career, hobbies, or simply ideas you want to pursue.

So, What did I care about when I was 13?


I was into telescopes and even built a couple primitive scopes.  My highlight was when I bought a simple refractor from a camera shop that just wanted to get rid of it because it had been sitting in the shop too long!


I liked anything related to science.  The space race was in full swing.  I had my own chemistry lab, including a fancy lab table that my father made me for Christmas.  I was determined to become a scientist when I grew up.  The closest I ever got was programming computers eventually in my career.  (See Computers below.)

Anything Military

Like a lot of kids I was into battleships, fighters and tanks.  And of course I watched every World War 2 movie that came on TV.  (This was the mid sixties and choices were limited.)


In this way I was a little weird I guess.  I actually liked math!

Guns and Hunting

I spent a lot of my growing up years in Pennsylvania, where everyone hunts and owns at least one shotgun and deer rifle.

Model Making

Plastic models were big and I made dozens of them.

Board Games

Computer games weren’t around yet, so everything was board games.  Chess was always popular and there were dozens of different wargames.

Science Fiction Movies

Again I watched every sci-fi movie that came on TV.  I remember reviewing the TV Guide that came with the Sunday paper and looking for when any science fiction movie was to be broadcast.


My interest in computers was just beginning.  Of course computers were giant mainframes back then.  No one owned one so you just had to read about them in magazines.

Real Life

So, how did I take those interests and use them in my life?  How might I use them today?  We’ll start with the one where I followed my interests the most and go from there.


In my career I spent many years in banking, so my use of computers at work was initially quite limited.  But on the personal side I was into computers as soon as my finances would allow.

First was a Timex computer.  It sold for 99.99, and I sprung for he $99.99 memory upgrade to 16K (that’s 16K, not 16 Meg, or 16Gig!)  Next was a Commodore 64, then an Amiga, and finally IBM PC clones.

I eventually started building my own computers, and that developed into a side hustle building, upgrading and repairing PCs.  Later I even wrote a couple related books about starting your own computer business.  One is available on Amazon here.  Somewhere along the line I taught myself to program.

On the career side I went from working in banks to building banking software for a small software firm.  That firm was swallowed up by a big software company and by the time I retired I managed about 60 programmers.

Now that I am retired I still enjoy programming, building websites, and occasionally building my own computers.  So my interest in computers at 13 is still there decades later!


I still have an interest in Astronomy as a hobby.  I read magazines and books.  My cheap homemade telescopes have been replaced with better commercial ones.  Of course the Internet, which didn’t exist when I was 13, is now a source of limitless information and ideas.

This is one area where I can expand my involvement.  Maybe I can start keeping a journal, or increase my observing time.


I still enjoy reading about science and keeping up with what is new.  I subscribe to  Scientific American, and follow science and space news on the Internet.

I’ve often considered building a home lab in the basement.  Not sure exactly what I would do with it, but I’ll have to do a little research there.

Military Stuff

Computer games have allowed grown ups to play with army men.  I don’t play as much as I used to but I still do play occasionally.  My favorite is a Medieval  warfare game called Stronghold Crusader.

I guess someone really into it could collect antique toy soldiers, or get into painting molded soldiers or 3D printed varieties.

I still enjoy watching both old and new World War Two movies.  Of course I have my copies of Patton, Battle of the Bulge, and both Midway movies.

Hunting and Guns

I don’t hunt anymore.  I guess I just feel sorry for the animals.  I do think hunters should eat anything they kill and not waste it.  Deer hunting is still popular in Pennsylvania, and most responsible hunters enjoy their venison.

Target shooting is still fun.  I have a good place to shoot and I enjoy doing it with my grown son.

Old Science Fiction Movies

I still enjoy the same old science fiction movies that I watched at 13.  I have quite a collection of DVDs and more purchased on Amazon Prime.  

My family knows of my tradition of Sci Fi Saturday.   This started as a kid when I would watch a Saturday afternoon TV movie that usually included at least one Sci Fi film.  I still like to watch an old classic on Saturday afternoons whenever I have time.

Board Games

This is one I enjoyed up until a few years ago when I lost access to my fellow players.  We enjoyed many late nights of Risk or Axis and Allies.

I guess I could reach out and try and find some new players, but I haven’t done so yet.

Computer games are kind of similar but they just aren’t the same.


I still enjoy thinking about math, even if I’m not as sharp as I was when I was younger.  Except for maybe some investment and financial stuff I’m not sure where this interest will go.

Model Making

This is another interest that kind of fell to the wayside.  Of course I could give it a try again if I really wanted to.  The Japanese make some very high quality kits.  We’ll see…

So looking back at what you liked at 13 is probably useful for generating ideas for hobbies, career hints, and just considering what interests to pursue. 

What were your interests at 13?