"You need a hobby."
These four words came at me like a curveball. I looked over at my partner and asked him what he meant. He quickly swiveled his chair towards me and repeated, "I think you need a hobby. It'll help with stress."
"What do you mean? I do so many activities. That's why I feel stressed in the first place," I said. (I'm not going to lie — I felt slightly defensive.) He laughed, "No, those aren't hobbies. You need to do something that has nothing to do with your job or building success."
I realized what he meant, and he was right. Not long after, I hopped on a long streak of "trying things." I learned how to make boba milk tea at home. I picked up genres of books I'd never touched before. I sat outdoors and listened to great playlists from start to finish. I started a personal newsletter. I bought a compact keyboard controller and started copying YouTube tutorials. (The last one has been my favorite hobby thus far.)
Out of curiosity, I reached out to a few friends to see what their favorite hobbies are these days. It gave me so much joy to hear what they are doing to de-stress and enjoy ordinary moments.
Kim is stitching soft rugs.
"I got into making rugs because of TikTok actually. Seeing other people make their own rugs — inspired by art, music or whatever they're into — and then sharing their processes made it seem less intimidating. Why not give it a shot? I mean, if they can do it I felt like I could too. My competitive side came out. It takes a lot of time, but it makes me happy."
Jerry is building mechanical keyboards
"As a programmer and a general guy-who-is-on-his-computer-too-much, the keyboard is almost an extension of myself. I’ve used a pre-built mechanical keyboard for the past 5 years, but earlier this year I started delving into the world of custom keyboards. The depth of knowledge was intimidating at first, but the energy and enthusiasm from the community quickly got me sucked in as I started researching. There are so many different options to consider (what switches you prefer, form factor, key cap aesthetics), but part of the fun is trying to find the perfect combination for yourself."
Jasmine is cooking delicious food creations.
"I've always been a fan of cooking, but quarantine gave me the time to be more detailed and focused on my cooking projects. I've been able to do more food styling while working on my photography at the same time. My favorite part is that I get to share my food creations with my sisters and share them with the family!"
Tim is problem solving through climbing.
"Bouldering is a workout—both physically and mentally. And each problem (climber speak for 'route') is a new puzzle to solve. Climbing gyms and outdoor boulders feel like playgrounds, offering a vast amount of puzzles to solve.
Another thing I love about climbing is that it gives you a sense of progression. I was motivated by how quickly I got better when I first started. I feel like everyone needs to feel encouraged when starting a practice. Climbing gave me that."
Natasha is sewing her own clothes.
"I've always wanted to learn how to sew my own clothing. I've been teaching myself these last few months and I really enjoy it! I love it because I can tailor everything to fit me perfectly. Because I'm so short, I've always had a hard time finding things that fit me. I'm trying to be environmentally conscious as well. The fabric I use is recycled deadstock fabric from FabScrap that I get from volunteering at their warehouse."
Cole is making useful things.
"I make things that make me feel good and make my life easier. It's a bonus that making things can sometimes make you look cool too. But yea — making things just feels good."
Jaimie is editing mini vlogs.
"I started my 'day in the life' vlog series to capture random moments that happened in my day, whether I was exploring the city or being a homebody. I felt motivated to start this because I had just moved to a new apartment in the fall of 2019 and I had a feeling I would stay in New York for one last year. I wanted to be more present and appreciate even in the most uneventful days.
What I love most about making these mini vlogs is being able to look back and be reminded how full my life was at the time and continues to be. I have a tendency to be forgetful and hard on myself for not 'accomplishing' anything worthwhile or wasting my time, but having a way to capture even the most mundane of moments reminds me that I enjoyed that moment and it wasn’t time wasted."
What do hobbies offer us?
Years ago, when I finally mustered up the courage to hop off the fast track to law school — I felt lost. Blogging, makings side projects, and other creative hobbies became my refuge and helped me anchor my identity to something tangible.
Over time, many of these hobbies grew into more durable skills that led me to my current career path. The problem was that I forgot to keep certain activities sacred with no agenda, just for myself. Being at home throughout the pandemic magnified this realization for me.