“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Julia Child

Do you have any hobbies?

Before you answer, take some time to think about how you feel about the question. When we make time on a regular basis for our hobbies, we might be accused of having too much time on our hands, being frivolous, or ignoring other, more important responsibilities. However, I am clearly most happy and creative when I make time in my life for hobbies, even when that means I must delegate, postpone, or even drop altogether other tasks, or when my hobbies require time alone rather than with other people.

We can begin to think about the role of hobbies in our lives by remembering childhood hobbies. I went through a series of hobbies when I was young: stamp collecting, complete with a starter kit of stamps ready to place in a binder; coin collecting (alas, no starter kit for that one); collecting every newspaper account of the Minnesota Vikings and pasting them all in a scrapbook with notes and captions (this was more successful). Over time, however, I’ve learned that collecting as a hobby isn’t something that gives me much satisfaction.

Some childhood hobbies I think I would have enjoyed more had I had more skills of time management and planning. I’ve always wanted to learn to be more proficient at drawing, but I mistakenly thought that I could doodle once in a while and somehow magically get better. Piano lessons were a similar though slightly more successful experience. When I was young, I hadn’t made the connection between working diligently to learn the basics in order truly to enjoy a certain level of mastery. Sure, I moved through the John Thompson piano grades and played well enough to accompany my high school chorus, but, because I wasn’t giving this hobby my all—I treated it a chore rather than a passion—true enjoyment from it remained elusive. I often “crammed” my practice into the last couple of days before a lesson, so the experiences of both practicing and learning new material were more stressful than relaxing.

I learned to knit and crochet from my mother and grandmother, but I never thought of these activities as hobbies until I became an adult. Why is that, I wonder? My enjoyment of needlework now comes mainly from tweaking patterns, working with the highest quality yarns and crochet threads I can afford (mainly for the feel of them against my fingers), and making gifts for friends and family.

I remember going through a period as a child when I consciously took up hobbies, then I didn’t think about hobbies for a very long time, perhaps because college and graduate school, marriage and motherhood filled my time. Or did aspects of these activities become hobbies?

In any case, I find myself now thinking of hobbies again, knowing I need to integrate them into my life more, wondering how to enhance the enjoyment of the ones I have, and asking if I want to take up any new hobbies.

  • What hobbies did you have as a child?
  • Have any of them continued to be a part of your life?
  • Are hobbies important to your sense of well-being?
  • Have you ever felt guilty for making time for hobbies?