What Happened to Hobbies?

It was my first day at my new job. I was nervous, excited, and my head was swimming with all of those I’m-in-over-my-head-what-did-I-get-myself-into feelings that come along with taking the big leap towards career advancement.

A new co-worker, whose desk was next to mine, turned to face me in his swivel-chair.

“So what are you into?” He asked.

I turned to look at him, dumbfounded. “What?” I asked.

“You know, what sort of stuff do you like? What are your hobbies?”

There was a time in my life where I would have been able to answer that question in a matter of seconds. Growing up I loved dance, theater, piano, writing music, writing plays, you name it. I was a quintessential “creative.”

But now I don’t really do any of those things.

“I like to read,” I answered finally, but the answer felt contrived, like something I’d say in a job interview. I mean, I wasn’t lying. I do love to read. But in reality I was lucky to finish a book a month, even when I said I’d finish one a week.

So what was I into? What did I spend all my time doing?

The answer probably won’t surprise you: Social media and Netflix had taken over my free time.

Why are we less productive than we’ve ever been before?

Facebook was by far the worst time-suck of them all. I’d be working on a homework assignment and the moment my brain let its guard down, I’d open Facebook without even thinking about it. I didn’t even have to type in the entire URL anymore; Google recognized where I wanted to go after I typed three letters.

An assignment that should have taken me 45 minutes ended up taking me three hours. By the time I finished, I was too tired to go out and do anything else.

It turns out that this happened most every night. Mindless social media, a few episodes of Netflix, and then it was time for bed. By the time I crawled underneath the covers, scrolling through Instagram for a few minutes seemed far more appealing than picking up the book on my bedside table.

Technology is cool. With new technological advancements, we can complete tasks in seconds that once took all day. Why, then, are we less productive than we’ve ever been before?

Why don’t we seem to have time for hobbies?

The answer isn’t hard to find. Hobbies are, quite simply, a form of entertainment. Who needs to actively pursue their own entertainment anymore, when an endless wealth of it can be found with a click of a button?

It’s easier to mindlessly click from website to website, Facebook post to Facebook post, than it is to say “I like x thing or y thing, I should do this more often” and actually follow through.

We don’t accomplish anything in that place, and we don’t enjoy ourselves either.

I want to be clear: I’m not bashing an evening of relaxation. We all need a movie marathon in our pajamas every now and again. I don’t want to discourage an evening off after a long day of hard work. But I do want to discourage that mindless place we go, as we sit at our computers or on our phones at night that is halfway between work and procrastination. We don’t accomplish anything in that place and we don’t enjoy ourselves either.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Be interested, not interesting?” To me, this phrase means many things. In the traditional sense, the phrase means we should actively listen to others in conversations, rather than just waiting for our turn to talk. However, to me it also means that we should actively pursue our interests and passions, doing the things we love with un-ironic enthusiasm and excitement.

I haven’t been doing that and I don’t feel “interested” or “interesting” at all.

So let me ask you this: What are you into?

I challenge you to think about the things that make you happy. The things you keep saying you want to pursue “when you have more time.”

Are you wasting time on things you don’t even like that much?

Then, pay attention to how you spend your free moments. Are you wasting them on things you don’t even like that much?

Make a plan to incorporate hobbies into your life. Set aside some time each week (it can be 30 minutes or six hours, whatever works for you!) and stick to it. It’s important that you consciously decide to make a practice of what you’re doing, which you can then develop into a passion and a skill.

If you’re feeling stumped, consider the following suggestions:

1. Get moving.

Sign up for a dance or yoga class. Map out nearby hikes you’d like to take on weekends. Finally push yourself to start training for that 10k or half marathon. Consider taking up Crossfit, boxing, or joining a local sports team. Hey, we’ve even heard roller derby can be really fun.

2. Learn another language.

I’ve found that in-person courses work best, but if there isn’t a class offered at your local community college and private tutors are too expensive, there are plenty of other ways to learn. Duolingo is a great website (you can also download the app on your phone) to start teaching yourself!

3. Read.

Like, actually read. Pick a book you think you’ll love and haul it around with you during the day. Why not pop it open while you’re grabbing coffee or on the train instead of browsing Facebook?

4. Make art.

Invest in a few artist supplies, whether it be pencils and a sketchbook or paint and canvas. Even if you’re not a natural-born artist, Pinterest has a wealth of art tutorials available. Teach yourself!

5. Cook.

Sign up for a few cooking classes or get your friends together for a wine and cheese tasting. Start collecting recipes you’d like to try and make them on the weekends when you have more time. Cooking can be incredibly relaxing when you treat it like an art form instead of a chore.

Bottom line: It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do, as long as it’s something you love. Give yourself the time to be interested in something.

You deserve it.

 

  • Briana Clara

    Great article. Even greater GIFs, lol.

  • LL

    The only good thing about mindlessly wasting time in the internet is
    finding articles like this. I always think I must sound like the most
    boring person when answering the questions, “What do you do for fun? On
    your spare time?” Since moving to new city, it’s been harder to find
    people to share my hobbies with and I resort to my hermit-like state of
    staring at a screen. This made me more conscious of that and I hope that
    stays with me! It also reminded me of this video – it gives another
    great point on why we shouldn’t reach for our phones at every empty
    moment.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c

    – Laura // GirlWhoWrites.com

    • I can definitely relate to your comment Laura – I often feel like I have a pretty boring life (and watch a lot of online TV). Blogging is one of my hobbies but besides that and reading, I don’t really have any solid ones. I sometimes get really jealous of my boyfriend because he has so many hobbies like fishing.

      Sam xx
      http://www.smart-twenties.com – how to make the most of your twenties

  • Holy crap, this was an eye opener. I’ve always said my hobbies were like drawing, painting, and stuff, but the truth is that I haven’t done that in a veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long time ._. I’m going to do my best to pursue these hobbies a little further!

  • Holy crap, this was an eye opener. I’ve always said my hobbies were like drawing, painting, and stuff, but the truth is that I haven’t done that in a veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long time ._. I’m going to do my best to pursue these hobbies a little further!

  • GREAT article!!! So important to remember. I recently got back into performing (yay community theatre!) and forgot how good it feels to be BUSY. The good kind of busy! Between work and rehearsals, I realized I wasn’t completely up to date on my Instagram feed, and I was okay with it. Not having time to mindlessly scroll through social media was the best feeling…and this is coming from someone who has a blog! The internet isn’t everything (GASP) and it’s nice to have alternative ways to spend your time. 🙂 (although brb, I am going to go scroll through Insta now.)
    http://www.theclydescope.com

  • Oh my gosh, this is so true! I used to have hobbies…I think? Now when I’m not at work, I blog, watch Netflix, and…nope. That’s it. Just those two things.

  • This is a wonderful article. I recently got rid of my facebook account. I love instagram but I try keep my ‘following’ list small. I mainly follow accounts (like The Everygirl 😉 that inspire, encourage, and teach me. Life has been much better without all the mindless surfing and I’ve started to do more of what I’ve always enjoyed: cooking, my fitness class, decorating, reading, and planning mini getaways. My bf works a lot so mindless facebook/twittering + Netflix are his pre-sleep bed routine. I’m trying to encourage him to unplug a little so he can start to enjoy his hobbies as well. I will definitely share this article with him 🙂 Thank you!

  • Years ago, when I was online dating, I always felt like such a fraud when guys would ask me about my hobbies. The honest answer would have been “uh, I go on a lot of dates…” but I think I said I liked travel, hiking and reading. Those were true, but I wasn’t making much time for them. Eventually I recognized that I needed to focus on being the kind of person I’d want to meet. I joined a running club and some other Meet Ups, and signed up for a painting class and some Coursera classes. I liked myself so much more than when I was devoting my free time to dating, and–shocker–I met an awesome guy (we’re getting married in less than a month!) and formed friendships that will last for the rest of my life.

    • Oh, and one other recommendation if you want to develop hobbies you really care about: Look into opportunities to get involved in your community through volunteering, local politics, city commissions, etc. That’s a triple win hobby: rewarding, good for your resume (and great for networking), and fun!

  • What a funny question to ask. Very few adults have defined hobbies I think. But maybe that’s just my perception. My hobbies also vary greatly by season. During the winter I’m a crochet addict, during the summer it’s too hot so I spend a lot of my time in the garden. Fall tends to be all about the kitchen and spring has me walking, hiking, and spending all the time I can outside.

    I love your GIFs and suggestions about getting out there. Having a child has certainly limited my social medial, and not because I’m too busy, but because I want to set a good example and not mindlessly scroll when there is something better to be done.

    xoxo
    Katie
    http://beyondtheclothing.com

  • Greast post! I take photos every weekend, make cards with them, blog, keep up an etsy shop and bake quite often. And read a lot. I guess those are mine!

  • Marp D

    I loved this. It’s just so true. I always complain about not having enough time, but much of that time is wasted on things that ultimately don’t make me feel productive or even good. Your articles are always so on point! Keep it up!

  • ‘Becca’lise Deveaux

    Great post! My biggest “hobby” is probably watching movies. I’m working my way through Sight & Sound film magazine’s 250 greatest films of all time list, and I write a film blog and host a monthly film club. Otherwise piano, cooking, yoga, there’s a lot that makes up me!

  • Laly10

    Great Article! I take French lessons, do calligraphy and decorate my journal/planner, plus I try new recipes and read at least 1 book per week. I try to work out or run a few days per week too and meet a group of friends each Sunday morning for a workout. And yes, I do work (lawyer). BUT… I often feel guilty when friends or aquaintances ask me “how I find the time.” Like I should be doing more serious or stressful things. They often ask me about where I get the energy and how do I get work done, etc. So I have to remind them (and MYSELF) that doing the fun things that I love is what makes the work and the day to day boring tasks, bearable.

  • Sahra

    ah, love this! I’m a BIG reader, but I agree, it feels a bit contrived to just answer that. I’m thinking about starting to go back into gymnastics after finding an adult tumbling class nearby my work so I might pick that up! and food haha but really, we are a world of screens and that is so sad

    XO Sahra
    Que Sera Sahra

  • I bake 🙂
    A friend and I love arranging “bake dates” together during weekends (at least twice a month) where I teach her new recipes. It’s fun for both of us. I have seasonal hobbies too, such as making paper cards and crafts for the Holidays. It’s important for us women to get into more productive uses for our time so we remain on our toes. Thanks for reminding us, Daryl 😉

  • This is fantastic! I’ve gotten my house pretty organized and now time management is the next self-improvement project I’m taking on. I think I do decent with hobbies: reading a lot (100+ books this year), sewing at least one project a month, doing at least one craft project a month, and more things seasonally but definitely a good reminder! It’s so easy to “waste” time on social media or the internet but I don’t think anyone really thinks that’s the best use of time.

  • This is such a great post! I recently started kick boxing and although I ache 24/7 it feels great to do something active that I really enjoy!

    http://www.mybeautyandbrownies.blogspot.co.uk

  • Meow HK

    Such a wonderful post! https://mshksite.wordpress.com/

  • Angelika Fritz

    Hi, I also had a time with no hobby (but lot’s of work, and it was before Facebook), but then I got into Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Qi Gong. For me, it is really crucial to take my “hobby” time first thing in the morning, because it would not happen otherwise! So the “relaxing” time is in the morning!

    And now I am that much into it, that I actually started a blog about:
    http://www.Qialance.com

    And I really recommend Taijiquan or Qi Gong as a hobby. It involves everything: moving, reading, learning a language (or at least the basics), meeting people. So if you are looking for a hobby: try it! AND you can do it until you are REAAAAAALLLLLY old!

  • I definitely noticed I had this problem a year or so ago. I’m so glad I took action and rediscovered my creative side. Now my regular hobbies include blogging about food, photography, and things to do around Chicago (where I live). I taught myself to bake and decorate cakes- I’ve become famous around my husband’s office. I’ve been teaching myself how to use a DSLR photography on manual only. I grow houseplants like a madwoman. And I love decorating my home. I found these hobbies make my life so much more enriched than zoning out in from of tv and social media all the time. I still do, but it doesn’t take up all of my time. Check out my latest posts on my website about the flamingo party I just threw! http://www.theslhr.squarespace.com

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  • Gemma Kathryn Griffiths

    KNITTING! I totally got into knitting about two years ago. I’m still quite a beginner but it is so rewarding. The actual act of knitting is so cathartic because you have to concentrate there isn’t room for anything else – but the concentration isn’t intense just -knit-purl-knit-purl etc.

    There are also other fun elements – you get to go wool and accessory shopping in store or online & you get to look up the cutest scandi style knitting and knitted homeware and baby things on pinterest!

    And the best thing is being able to give people gifts if you plan in advanced enough, I made all my female friends and family members chunky ballerina slippers with giant pom poms for christmas!