The Vine: April 5, 2017
I have a question I'm hoping you or the readers can give me some fresh ideas on. I feel like I need a hobby.
And I'm paralyzed with indecision and maybe a little laziness.
The back story is that for 12 years I worked a demanding job — 80 hours a week, nights and weekends required, rotating schedule of days off. My life mainly consisted of sleeping, working, drinking and surviving a terrible marriage. I got divorced and quit my job two years ago, and am now happily working in the same profession but with a 40-hour work week and a more stable schedule.
The problem is that I feel like I don't DO anything. I love to read, do crossword puzzles, walk my best friend's dog with her, but I don't really have "a thing" I'm passionate about. I feel like I want to meet new people and be super-invested in something, but it's so overwhelming to think about. How do I try something new when I don't even know where to start? Or what to start with? Or have someone to start with me? Especially when I work most weekends and a lot of nights — most groups don't meet up during the weekdays when I am free to participate.
I feel silly asking this, because I know that what makes other people passionate isn't going to be the same for me — but what do I do when I feel like I am passionless? Am I just depressed? Maybe I'm just a boring person? People ask what your hobbies are when they meet you, and my response is lately, "I read a lot, and binge-watch Netflix."
No no no no, sensei. You're "working towards a black belt in the sedentary arts." [bows deeply] [remote clatters to the floor] Can't they make a gi with pockets, my God.
…Okay, "ha ha," but I feel like I JUST nodded at a tweet about this, like, yesterday. Hold, please. …Ah, here it is:
— Alina (@serbina_alina) April 4, 2017
Let me try to clear the more distressing question here, which is whether you're depressed: no. I mean, maybe you are, but liking indoorsy pursuits is not an indicator of that, to me. And the "me" in question runs a TV website in the midst of a literal barrage of programming so thick that I can barely keep up with shows I adore, much less find new stuff to watch, and I run a true-crime review blog too, in the First Golden Age of true-crime podcasts, plus there is an entire wall of my bedroom where I store unread books. An entire wall! And I'm supposed to indulge in luxuries like sleeping and interacting with my spouse and friends, apparently?
Point is, I've found a way to make many of my interests and obsessions (DB Cooper; being a know-it-all) into my work — but there is a downside to that, and I don't just mean the "pay." It's that then, it's…work. My own tendencies in that regard have to do with my sense of self-worth and feeling like I "shouldn't" just relax and screw off, so I turn even watching an ER rerun into a task-based 45 minutes — but I also think there is a larger societal/cultural instinct that devalues down time for its own sake, and turns all sorts of hobbies and leisure activities into competitions (yearly challenges on Goodreads) or judgments (that every nesting mag has a set of cookie stencils at the holidays) and it's like, I just wanted to listen to Karina Longworth talk about the blacklist and bake some snickerdoodles, but there's no "just" anymore.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to make an art-directed snickerdoodle, or knit beautiful and functional scarves, of course. But just because your activities aren't Instagrammable doesn't make them a waste of time. If you want to take a class on Italian cooking because you think your marinara could be more delicious for you ("and me!" – your friend's dog.), go for it. If you want to join a hiking or birding Meet-Up because your #oldladywalk route is boring, do that. Doing new stuff and meeting new people now and then is good.
But it's not easy for everyone (hi, introverts), and it's not necessary for the world to sign off on your downtime contentment. We live in a performative world. Social media makes it seem like everyone has to have A Thing, a pitch. "My brand is analog chill!" It's okay to just like to read and bury yourself in Midsomer Murders. (I…hope.)
If you do want to branch out but you don't know where to start, find a meet-up group near you that's a book club in a genre you like. If a podcast you listen to is doing a live event near you, go on out to that, or to a free concert in a park near you. Support your local art galleries by stopping in. Loved that book about art forgeries? Maybe you'd like auditing an art-history class at a college nearby.
Maybe you'd hate that. Either way: you are fine. You don't need "fixing" because you don't have a 365 Leaves Of Chard blog. And if you want one, start it, and don't overthink it.
Got a Vine question of your own? Send it in! Etiquette, grammar, gift crowdsourcing, you name it and we'll ponder it. bunting at tomatonation dot com!
Tags: DB Cooper hobbies rando