Hello! You’ve made it. We’re all here! The wonderful land of adulthood.
Finally, you now have all that freedom that you intensely begged for at age 13, but unfortunately, it came with a lot of untold expenses, responsibilities, and hurdles. Suddenly, the elusive freedom you once craved feels a lot less like a tank full of gas in a shiny new car, and a lot more like a bill for car insurance. Yippee.
We get it. Whether you’re freshly initiated into adulthood, or have been here a while, being a grown-up definitely has its perks, but it can feel overwhelming — busy, messy, and even dull and uninspiring at low points. Between errands, work, and what it takes to just manage your life, it can be tempting to use all our free time in mindless pursuits to hide from the daily grind. And while there’s nothing wrong with the occasional Netflix binge or becoming a regular at the local bar, we’d all rather be thriving instead of just surviving, right?
If you feel like you’re running a rat race and you can’t figure out why the everyday is getting more lackluster, consider going on a quest to find a hobby. It could lead you to a stronger purpose, deeper passion, and even a sense of peace. You might even gain some new friends out of it. These questions might help you sort out which hobbies will strengthen and refresh your soul, rather than just distract you from the grind.
What did you love as a child?
Children experiment and often intuitively know what brings them joy. So, think back toward childhood — what did you gravitate toward? Did you tinker with model trains, or could you spend hours coloring? Could you shoot hoops all day, or did you prefer to explore the neighborhood streets with your bike? And when you told people what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you say?
Obviously, our tastes expand as adults, but at the core, the activities that spoke to us as kids fed important aspects of our personalities. As you’re reminiscing, ask yourself why you might have loved that activity. Did you like drawing zoo animals because you loved animals, or because you loved the satisfaction of creating something that your mom featured on the fridge? Did you like playing soccer because you enjoyed the strategy behind the game, or did you just like going outside to play with others in the fresh air?
If you suddenly had a $50,000 gift card to Amazon…
Just imagine! Pretend money is not an issue — that you have a large gift card to Jeff Bezos’ everything-store that expires in 20 minutes and it’s not allowed to go toward anything practical. What would you buy? Interesting cooking books and equipment? A heart rate monitor? A cool fishing boat? An easel and unlimited paint? Camping equipment? A new banjo? A pottery wheel?
Seriously, think big — and far out. It may not translate to reality, but the thought experiment can surface desires, and knowing what you would buy can help get the wheels turning on what you like to do.
What gives you a real sense of satisfaction?
Maybe you’re competitive, and it’s the surge of adrenaline after a win that gives you the biggest satisfaction. Or maybe it makes you feel good to set long-term goals and complete them on your own — like mastering a complicated yoga pose. Or instead, maybe you find more joy when you have a creative idea and then set out to turn it into something real.
Do you enjoy making people laugh — or would you rather make people think? When you’re wishing for a compliment, what do you want people to notice more? What types of things make you feel the most validated — winning, creating, or connecting?
What topics make you ‘light up’ and feel animated?
So, you’re at a party and someone brings up a topic that gets you going — what about this topic brings you to life? When you find yourself Googling random things late, late at night (we all do it), where do you routinely end up when you go down your chosen “rabbit hole”? Is there a theme you find yourself exploring on Quora pages or Reddit threads? What is it about these topics that makes you want to delve deeper and learn more?
When do you have free time?
Alright, so this is a more practical question, but it’s a legitimate one. We’re not going to start a new hobby if it’s totally inconvenient. So be honest with yourself: How much free time do you have at this point in your life?
Do you work 40 hours a week, or 80? Do you have a long commute, or do you walk to work? Are your weekends totally and completely yours, or do you have responsibilities to a growing family? The young mother of an infant can’t exactly take a jaunt to the mountains anytime she wants, for example.
This isn’t meant to discourage you — just to help you get a better idea of where you could fit a hobby in your life. Can you find time for a regular activity in the mornings? Evenings? Lunchtime?
And if your answer is: “I honest-to-God have zero free time,” then you need to check your priorities, because this is not sustainable, and you’re going to go crazy.
All this said, finding a good hobby in adulthood takes a bit of patience — with others, maybe, but mostly with ourselves. An endeavor needs to “click” and sometimes it can take time to find the right fit. So while you’re searching, just remember: hobbies are meant to be fun. Even hobbies that require work and concentration can be fun if they make you feel happy.
And don’t try to force it. In a way, a hobby should be something that speaks to you. It should comfort you, challenge you, and also help you discover and nourish a new aspect of yourself — while at the same time making you feel like the truest version of yourself.