To Hobby or Not To Hobby

I think Shakespeare said that?


While driving to get coffee, I heard a talk show host say she didn’t have hobbies and that it was okay not to. She confessed that she went to gym but only because she “had to,” and I learned she shopped a lot, but it “didn’t count.” In her opinion. When her co-host asked if she read, she replied with a clipped “no.” This sent me into about three serious debates in my mind — three too many considering I was still stoplights away from Dunkin’ Donuts.

The first debate: is it okay to be hobby free? The second: is the gym obligatory and should I maybe go back to one because of wedding season? Third: why aren’t we reading nearly as much as we should be, in some cases not at all?

Hobbies, man.  Am I the only one who recalls “What are your hobbies?” as one question I felt prepared to answer among strangers? My favorite color and I were in an open relationship, but my unyielding interest in drawing (and eating fruit-roll ups) remained steadfast. Kids are programmed to explore the things that they like.

Then we grow up and time becomes a luxury and nobody cares if you can draw a photo of yourself in bell bottoms riding a skateboard with a kitten on your shoulders. Before you know it, I should take a shower turns into No time for shower turns into This dry shampoo sample should work turns into Shit now I definitely need to shower turns into Late for meeting. That’s life. It’s valid to consider how one might actually be too busy to take up a cooking class.

But I’m torn. As someone notorious for quitting things (ballet, running, church, my sorority, relationships, How To Get Away With Murder), I’d like to give credit to all the quitters out there for having started something in the first place. Shouldn’t we all carve out sacred space to do whatever it is that brings us joy? It is a privilege to learn a skill we don’t find necessary. That experience becomes necessary. MTV’s Made was literally about making dream hobbies come true. People tuned in to watch.

I wasn’t on Made, but I had hobbies. If I hadn’t dedicated afternoon after afternoon to reading Elle Girl magazines as a preteen, my life would not look like my life. And I wouldn’t always subconsciously be wishing Mischa Barton well.  I’m grateful for those hours because it lead me to other things. Like knowing what I wanted to be, and maybe showing me a way to get there. If you think about it, pretty much everyone you admire got to where they are because they had a hobby. Something pulling at them. Asking for attention. Would poke them on Facebook if they could.

How we choose to spend our time is the most important decision we make in the day, and we shouldn’t deprive ourselves from creative growth. Learning is fun. Hobbies are good for you.

Shopping counts. Reading definitely counts. And there’s plenty more to go around.

Hiking? Gardening? Competitive dog grooming?  Let me know where your past hobbies have taken you and where your new one does or might.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


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