This was linked to in the latest issue of Dense Discovery with the question of who amongst the readership has taken up a hobby recently?
As Anne Helen Petersen points out, it’s really hard to start a new hobby as an adult, not only for logistical reasons but because of the self-narrative that goes with it.
For me, the gulf between how good I am at something when starting it, and how good I want to be at a thing is often just too off-putting…
To me, that’s what I think a real hobby feels like. Not something you feel like you’re choosing, or scheduling — not a hassle, or something you resent or feel bad about when you don’t do it. Earlier this week, Katie Heaney wrote a piece in The Cut that speaks to what I think a lot of people feel when they think about their hobbies: she keeps trying to start one, but can’t make it stick. The truth is, it’s really really hard to start a hobby as an adult — it feels unnatural, or forced, or performative. We try to force ourselves into hobbies by buying things (see: Amanda Mull’s piece on the “trophies” of the new domesticity) but a Kitchen-Aid will not make you like cooking.
It’s also hard when the messages about what you should be doing with your leisure time are so incredibly contradictory: you should devote yourself to self-care, but also spend more time on your children and partner; you should liberate yourself from the need to monetize your hobby but also have enough money to do the hobby in the first place. This “Smarter Living” piece in the NYT on what to do with a day off is emblematic of just how fucked up our leisure messaging has become: you should “embrace laziness,” “evaluate your career,” “have a family meal,” “fix your finances,” “do that one thing you’ve been putting off,” AND/OR “do nothing,” AND THEN tweet the author about what you did over the weekend!