We live in a busy, fast-paced world where it's easy to lose time for hobbies. The looming shadow of "What Needs to Get Done" closes in and suddenly our lives are all work and no play which, according to Stephen King, never ends well. Prioritizing makes sense, but there's a limit to how much we should let sweet levity fall to the wayside. I don't think we should ever axe our hobbies, and here's why.
1. Hobbies Motivate You To Get Out Of Bed
Life starts to look pretty dismal when all you've got to wake up for is a rough shift at work and a midterm essay you should have started sooner. Having something fun to look forward to will get that first foot out of bed. Class might be stretching on for a million hours, but you know when you get out, you can read the next chapter of that book you started. No matter how robotic you feel doing what you have to do, you'll always find fresh motivation for what you want to do.
2. Relaxation Is A must
You can't make it through life winding yourself tighter and tighter, always working, never relaxing. Recuperate with some doodling. Re-center yourself through a video game. If you never slow down or take time to yourself, you'll drive yourself insane. Instead of piling on more and more, preserve your free time for something you enjoy. Whether you can spare half of every day or only half an hour a week, you've got to take time to relax before you go crazy.
3. You Get To Express Yourself
Don't lose yourself in the gray seas of the world; strengthen your individuality at every turn. No matter what interests you—no matter what you create, perform, enjoy, or try—hobbies are a way to discover and express yourself. Your uniqueness will show through your hobbies, and who knows? You might get other people interested, too.
4. You Learn The Value Of Patience
The world could use a little more patience, and maybe the way to learn it is through hobbies. If you knit or crochet, you know how long a big project takes. You don't bust out a whole afghan in one night. Say nothing of the pain you feel when you have to take out twenty rows and redo them because of one big mistake you missed. But when something makes you happy, no setback is enough to make you quit. Eventually, that can-do attitude will spread throughout your life. Learning to take life one step at a time might just start with learning to knit one stitch at a time.
5. The Ability To Improvise Is A Lifesaver
Life has a way of taking us off-guard, and while we can't predict the future, we can be ready to meet it. One thing I learned in video editing is that there's always a way. Maybe your solution is a bit convoluted. Probably there was a better way to do it. But it got done, and it looks good. That's all we can do with life sometimes: fly by the seat of our pants and, somehow, miraculously, make people think we had it under control the whole time. Maybe video isn't your thing, but plenty of hobbies teach you how to improvise. Did Bob Ross just mention a color paint you forgot to buy? Blend up your own—it will look great. Feel like baking but don't have all the ingredients you need? Maybe you'll end up making an even better recipe of your own. Some of the best things come from improvising, anyway
6. Your Brain Needs A Workout Regimen, Too
My grandmother may have an old body, but her mind hasn't aged a day, and she accredits that to all the reading, baking, and crocheting she still does. She knows that learning never gets old. Every time you pick up a hobby, you learn new skills, new terms, new techniques.... Just like your body needs exercise to stay fit, your brain needs learning to stay sharp!
7. Hobbies Open Opportunities
Maybe your love of dancing will suddenly find you on a square-dancing team in the farm show. Maybe your interest in cooking will land you on an episode of Chopped. The more you open your world, the more the world will have to offer you. Contests, classes, events, volunteer work—even other hobbies—will have a way of finding you when you pursue your interests. For all you know, they may even help you find your dream job. Maybe you never thought of being a presenter on Turner Classic Movies, but when you make time for your cinematic passion, you might find yourself there! Nothing is impossible.
8. Making Friends Is Easier With Something To Talk About
Picture (as I'm sure you can) the kind of conversation that keeps dying at the end of every sentence and literally hinges on how the weather's been. Now picture a conversation centered around a common passion. That's a pretty big difference, right? Having a mutual interest with someone might just mean getting an instant best friend. One weekend you're bowling alone—the next, you're part of a bowling league and have a new group of friends!
9. Fulfillment Should Be A Regular Part Of Your Life
With classes falling apart around you and bills eating up all your paychecks, life can feel pretty unrewarding. But it doesn't have to. By giving yourself small goals or undertaking new projects, you can feel fulfilled as often as you want—after all, it doesn't take long to crochet a cool beanie hat, and once you sculpt a coffee mug, you get to enjoy it every morning. It feels great to finish something you started, and at the end of a rough week, it can make all the difference.
10. You Deserve To Do Things For Yourself
Here's a novel idea: we don't need permission to live our lives. If you like sewing Renaissance Faire costumes, then do it. If you get enjoyment out of basement photoshoots with your cat, then do it. Hobbies are things you do for yourself, not other people, and the word "weird" means nothing. You don't need anyone's approval to paint sweaters onto pet rocks, and it doesn't need to accomplish anything other than making you happy. So after a day of working for other people, go home and remember how important you are.
11. Hobbies Keep You Happy
All of this amounts to one main point: when a hobby makes you happy, it doesn't need to do anything else! There's great joy to be found in creation and discovery, no matter what form it takes for you. A bad day changes fast when you have a fun way to end it. No matter what the "business" side of life might throw at you, your hobbies will help you catch it and throw it right back. So what if you embarrassed yourself in public today? You have ____ to do tonight.
So don't feel bad about the time you spend on your hobbies. No matter what your hobby is, if it makes you happy, it is important. No excuses or apologies. Your interests matter, whether you have a single new one or a dozen old ones. Because after all...