In Defense of Hobbies
At the turn of the new year, I saw an instagram post that was re-grammed by numerous people I follow. It was in defense of hobbies–you know, the things you do for fun with zero expectations (remember those?). “Hobby” isn’t even a word you hear much these days. It’s always referred to as your side hustle or, if you’re a kid, an “activity” (and as a mom of a 5 year old, I feel a lot of pressure to keep the boys in activities–maybe you can relate). I wish I could find the author of that hobby quote and remind myself of it on a more frequent basis. But like many things I see on instagram, it was a fleeting moment. However, this moment has stuck with me all month and I can’t stop thinking about it.
What happened to hobbies? Why does everything we do have to have a strategic game plan? Why the rush to monetize everything that we do? Why the pressure to turn hobbies or activities into something more lucrative? It’s true that I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth right now; blogging was a hobby for me, but hear me out: I started this blog TEN YEARS ago purely out of passion with zero expectations. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to monetize it, let alone make a career out of it. I often think about the moment when I started it…and more importantly, why; I needed an outlet in a big way. I needed a way to express myself. I needed escapism from my 9 to 5 and from the harsh reality that my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer. I needed something that could bring me a sliver of joy without any explanation as to why I was doing it. I needed a hobby.
Now I’m not saying that you can’t parlay your interests into a career; you most definitely should and honestly, I think the most interesting people had a zig zag path to their version of success. Fashion has always been an interest of mine–so, really, it’s a hobby or an activity I enjoy at my leisure. Whether it was reading about it in fashion magazines at a young age or helping a friend clean out their closet, finding a way to inject fashion and style into my life is an activity that I’ve always enjoyed, even decades later. My hobby has evolved into an actual job, but again, this is after solid years (that’s plural) of not making a dime. My hobby of blogging opened my eyes to a career change; it made me realize that I could pursue a job outside of my comfort zone–a job I had never even heard of. I made a major pivot and jumped head first into a new industry (I was the 20th employee at Trunk Club, a fashion start-up that was acquired by Nordstrom in 2014) and kept on blogging. Not much has stayed consistent throughout this past decade, except of course, my love of this hobby. I still truly enjoy it and have yet to burn out; I love style and fashion so much that I wanted to create an extension beyond my blog, so I started my own fashion company–purely out of passion (read about the start of my passion project here).
So, why have hobbies? To me, a hobby is an enjoyable, low-stress activity that just makes you happy. In this high stress, go-go-go, always on society, we NEED more of that. No strings attached enjoyment and fun?! Sounds delightful, right? I think hobbies help you learn a lot about yourself, too. Like, what are you good at? Or, what can you improve upon? They can also help you meet people, help others, instill patience, learn a life skill–there’s so many reasons to have a hobby. They help unleash your inner passions and it doesn’t matter if you’re “good” at it or not. Because the stakes are low, I think they help you unleash that bottled up potential from within, which is why you always hear of success stories of people turning their passions into a billion dollar company.
Cooking is a hobby for me. True, some nights I don’t want to cook, but most of the time I look forward to it and enjoy finding new recipes to try for my family to enjoy. Oh, and guess what? Sometimes what I make tastes terrible. Sometimes I mess up–and it doesn’t matter. Reading (both books and audiobooks) is another hobby; I love when friends share a good read with me and I love paying it forward. And sometimes a book doesn’t pique my interest so I don’t finish it–no big deal. Music was once a big hobby of mine; I was a very frequent concert go-er. Time has changed that but I still love to listen to (what I consider) good music. And lately, I have a more healthy hobby of riding the Peloton on a regular basis; I always rank at the bottom and you know what? I have a damn good time doing it, especially if the playlist is good.
I’ve found that hobbies make you happier in unexpected ways. Maybe you make connect with people in a different way or have more interesting things to talk about at the dinner table. So how ’bout it? Let yourself enjoy a hobby this year…without any ulterior motive. Share your hobbies below (maybe I’ll pick up a new one!).