I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting in a therapist’s office in silence for a perceived eternity as I flew through my mental file cabinet trying to answer her simple question.
Why can’t I answer this???
It should have been a simple question, anyway. For most people, it probably was a very simple question.
What is wrong with me??
I was a mere baby adult, 22-ish, and for the love of AC Moore, why won’t she stop staring?!?!?!
These were my just-post-gymnastics days and I was enduring near daily panic attacks as my body acclimated to a severe (and immediate) drop in exercise-induced endorphins. Immediately in that one day I was a gymnast and the next day, after saluting the judges one last time, I was a civilian. No more chalk-dust-filled practices that ran from afternoon to bedtime. No more built-in tribe of women who knew exactly how it was to balance school and this second job. No more coaches pointing me in every direction needed thus removing any decision-making abilities I might have formed in those critical frontal-lobe-forming years.
That is how a gymnastics career ends, by the way. There are no pickup leagues or casual classes (at least not in the 90’s). And anyway, by retirement age, most gymnasts’ bodies are so beaten down that reaching that finish line of the final salute equates to reaching the grand prize of recovery.
But this isn’t a blog about how gymnastics shaped me (nor would I trade those decades for anything).
This blog is about a 22-year-old trying to come up with one (just one!!!) answer to that question posed by my therapist.
What do you like to do?
I had no idea. I had no idea what I liked to do or how I liked to fill the vast spaces of the day or what my hobbies were or, really, what a hobby even was. Her question was legit, I just had no ability to answer it. That inability, of course, kicked off another round of panic because what
grown baby adult doesn’t know how to entertain themselves? Still, my therapist kept pushing, urging me to write down activities that I wished I could have done when I wasn’t launching myself off a balance beam–pointless as all I ever wanted to do was launch myself off a balance beam.
It was one of the most challenging moments of my life, creating that stable of hobbies for the first time. I was leery of even trying anything at all because I knew, I just knew, that nothing would replace the glory of gymnastics. I was right–nothing has, but still, gotta keep those endorphins moving. This pattern would re-appear in different forms over the next three decades and one that is center stage, again, today as I slide my tennis rackets into the back of the closet. Tennis? Yes, that has filled a wonderful gap for nearly twenty years.
I guess I always wanted to try dance lessons, was the best answer I could muster in that office years ago. My therapist pounced, encouraging me to find a studio and get started. I did not. The idea of it was exhausted. For me, there was no such thing as a casual approach to hobbies. For me, if I was going to leap into dancing, didn’t it have to be at the level of the prima ballerina in Swan Lake? My body still ached too much to even consider anything requiring a high level of dedication.
This current round of hobby-shopping is going much better thanks to experience and a family unit and, well, I guess I’m finally learning that hobbies do not have to be obsessions. I have been forced to put my competitive tennis rackets away having just wrapped up recovery from a third wrist surgery (all aimed to cleaning out gymnastics much) and need something less wrist-y. I suppose this round has also gone better because this road is now familiar.
What do you like to do?
It seems like such an easy question but, for many, it really is a total mind-eraser.
What do you like to do?
No, really, YOU.
Someone is reading this very blog at the very same time as you and they are on a desperate search for something to alleviate boredom, fill free time, or squelch the anxiety that arrives in quiet moments.
On our seventh podcast episode of Whine & Wine, we discuss just that – adult hobbies.
No, not the dirty kind, calm down.
As many baby adults turn to young adults turn to seasoned adults, participation in extracurriculars drops as focus becomes, well, focused on work or maintaining a home or just about anything that is not optional.
Hello? This is a call to action. Get back out there and do something for you that is not at the demand of your employer or school district or roommate. Hobbies are incredibly important for our mental health, yet they are often the first thing dropped when we feel stretched too thin. Why, many of us don’t even remember what we like to do in our free time.
Don’t worry, we have endless suggestions that range from diamond art to Duolingo to naming the birds that frequent your feeder. Okay, maybe not all of them are good suggestions, but still.
Have you heard of the 5-Hobby Rule? According to some, we should have hobbies that meet each of these categories:
- One to make you money
- One to keep you in shape
- One to be creative
- One to build knowledge
- One to evolve your mindset
While we agree that the creators of this guideline have more free time than us, it does make some sense.
Our Nonsor: Today’s Episode was not sponsored by Nippies! Nippies are the perfect way to keep your personal thermometers at bay.
Other mentions? Well, yeah, there were a few … turns out we have a lot of hobby ideas:
- American Red Cross (yes, that does sound weird, but the spirit of volunteering is a breeder of hobbies)
- Bird Buddy
- Duolingo (celebrating Jyl’s 1300th day in a row)
- Habitat for Humanity
- Michaels (check here for Cricut, Diamond Art, Woodburning Kids, Paint by Number … the list is endless)
Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments section as we’d love to hear how you fill your free time and you may just give a struggling someone the answer they’ve been waiting for.
Listen to this month’s episode of Whine & Wine here:
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