It used to be our favorite question as children. What are your hobbies? My 8-year-old girl answers were pretty textbook - drawing, cooking, reading, playing with my friends. It was a chance for us to give others a glimpse into our interests and share what made us tick. What we enjoy doing says a lot about who we are.
Fast forward to any get-to-know-you session anywhere today. Particularly involving those under the age of 25.
What are your hobbies? It's become the dreaded question.
After a slight hesitation, many can come up with no more than watching Netflix or 'hanging out.' To me, these are not hobbies. They are simply ways to pass the time. They may be things we enjoy doing, but they say nothing about us. They are passive activities that require no thought, no self-expression, and no creativity.
We have become so hyper-scheduled and programmed to believe that everything we do must be better than the last time we did it. We must continually be better than ourselves and everyone else, and if we are not, then there is no point in partaking. We seek hacks for improvement and find ourselves constrained by an enemy that we have created: time. Without competition, we seem to lose our purpose.
So whatever happened to doing something just for the sake of doing it? Or for the joy of doing it?
Why can't we cook because we love experimenting with food or making others happy? Why can't we knit a scarf for someone who needs it? Why can't we write for the sake of thinking? I once had a professor who told us that writing is the best process of thinking.
Why can't we do all these things? Because we are not the best in the world at them. We are not breaking records. The art we create might have no greater purpose than to exist as art, and we see that as nothing more than a monumental waste of our time.
So we settle for watching excessive amounts of Netflix, because there is no fear of competition, no fear of failure. We are told what to think and we think it. We absorb the world like a sponge that is never wrung out. We collect ideas that we choose not to act upon.
We settle for being, when really 'to be' is 'to do.'
I'll be the first to admit, I'm not always in the mood to dabble in my hobbies. I try to give myself the excuse that I am just too tired. Then, I realize that as soon as the hobbies I enjoy become a source of stress, they are no longer hobbies. I have taken them to the next level. You know that level - the one where everything seems to get taken these days.
I challenge you to find a hobby. I think I'll do the same. We'll all become a lot happier when we have something in our lives that we can look forward to, something that we love, and even something that we can teach others. Look for the thing that makes time disappear.
Even the most meaningless hobbies can make your life a whole lot more meaningful.