As we get older many of us begin to neglect the skill-sets and hobbies that bring us joy. Work, parenthood, and other facets of life take over and we no longer have the time to dedicate to the things we love. This is a reasonable expectation, but why do we continue to accept it once our lives have plateaued and we’ve found balance in all of our responsibilities? This unhealthy approach to work/ life balance has many flaws. In fact, the concept of work/life balance in itself is flawed because life does not mean self. More often than not our lives away from the office are full of other responsibilities and obligations that continue to suck at our energy and leave us hollowed out husks of our former selves. We need to inject the self back into our very full (but shared) lives and experiences. Many of us lose ourselves because the thing that brings light to our eyes, the thing that’s “just for us,” is missing. Why is it that we allow ourselves to be so consumed and defined by things outside of ourselves, so much so that we never even go back to peak at who we used to be?
When we look at our lives it is important to understand that they are the way they are because it’s something that we’ve created. There’s an old phrase that speaks to this, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” This may seem a bit harsh at first but it’s true! Regardless of whether or not you’ve been true to yourself throughout your relationships or decision making, you are responsible for the outcome of your life. You cast it, wrote it, and directed it. We all get caught up in becoming (or at least appearing) successful. We want to be the perfect parent, the perfect husband or wife, the perfect (most supportive) friend. As a result, we focus all of our energies on those things rather than on ourselves. We forget that if we allow ourselves to become the person that we are—the person that we’re meant to be—by coveting the things that make us unique, then we will have more to offer in every circumstance of our lives.
We will become the best parent because we’re living our truth. We will be a perfect spouse because we’ll be happy doing the things that we’re meant to do. As people, we’re heavily focused on the impression we give others when we should be focused on how we feel about ourselves and our accomplishments.
I wrote an article once about being an artist/ suddenly not being an artist anymore and what that experience did to my sense of self. It took a long time for me to accept the fact that I had simply stopped doing something that I’d loved so much. But then it got me thinking, why is it that I don’t do this thing (art) anymore? Was it the lack of time? I’m still not sure, but I do know is that my life gets exponentially better when I nurture the side of myself that has always been there; My inner artist, lesbian, and riot grrrl. Those things that I stuffed down to better accommodate the ideas society had for my future.
When discussing or thinking about hobbies or happiness in life we have to understand that if we don’t make time for these things, they’ll simply cease to exist . We have no one to blame for this other than ourselves for not allowing the things that we love into our lives anymore. As a person with anxiety/depression and ADD, there are days that I just sit in the dark and I think about all the things that I should or could be doing—but I never take action. Soon enough, it’s the lack of action that tends to define me rather than my dreams and ambitions. If I’m being honest, I’ve never been too ambitious. My interests have always been spread to thin to really hone in on any one thing I was passionate about. I’m passionate about living and about the experience of being alive, and how people live. I might have made a great anthropologist if I’d had the gumption to stay in college (SNORE).
So, it’s possible that life happened to you too quickly to ever really know what your innate skills were. Well, I have good news, now is as good a time as any to pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill! Hobbies act as important creative outlets. They stimulate our brains by making us think and they also release serotonin (the brain’s happy chemical). As an adult, a hobby can be a great way to meet other like-minded people. I think that’s a huge aspect of why Crossfit became so popular. Suddenly there was a hobby that adults could participate in with a built-in social aspect to it, win-win!
Here are some ways to pinpoint your interests
1.) If your search for a new hobby seems aimless, then go shop for one! I would go onto the website Meet-up. You don’t have to commit or even attend one, but it’s fun to look through all the varied interests on the site. When something jumps out at you, write it down so you remember to look into it as an option
2.) Talk to your friends! Next time your friend brings up a random activity they’re doing, ask if you can join! Sometimes learning what we don’t like can help us to narrow down what it is we DO.
3.) Think about who you are and what you do currently. If you travel a lot, maybe a hobby that can travel with you is smart. If you’re drawn to vegging out to cop shows or action movies, maybe taking a martial arts class would get you fired up! if you’re a hermit like me, maybe knitting, sewing, or collecting could be a nice activity. If you still have very young children then finding a hobby that incorporates them (like a mom/stroller walking group) may help you feel less isolated. On the flip side, if you’re a new parent feeling overwhelmed then asking for help is an option as well! Find a small hobby you can do quickly (10-30 minutes), quietly, and alone. Things that come to mind are meditation, watercolor, yoga, and writing/ reading poetry. Ask your partner, friend or parent if they’d assist you by offering childcare for that small window of time.
Here are 50 Low-Cost Hobbies
Let us know where you find joy in your day on the comments!