It seems like we’ve been condensing our hobbies and interests into lists our whole lives. For me, I guess it could be argued that an early form of this began in elementary school. I would meticulously write out the names of my friends in the order of how much I liked them. Each week, I would name a different friend victorious for the coveted No. 1 spot in my heart, or the number one spot of whoever had a trampoline in their backyard at that time. In middle school, AOL profiles provided a new forum for me to write out lists.
“Hobbies and interests” was a section for me to make myself super interesting to all my peers. I didn’t think writing “making friend lists, watching endless amounts of television during the summer, and writing short stories about talking animals” would suffice in my attempt at impressing my fellow 11-year-olds. That’s when I first began to understand the importance of hobbies. Sometimes hobbies aren’t necessarily about what you actually enjoy doing but are more about how you want others to perceive you.
The AOL profile “hobbies and interests” list I remember settling on went something like skiing, “hanging” with friends, and whatever sport I pretended to be into that week. Truthfully, I had never been skiing, but all the rich popular girls put it in their profiles, so I figured it was a good, non-polarizing hobby to include. This continued into high school and college, especially after the advent of Facebook. Everyone’s interests were publicized for all their friends and acquaintances to see and to judge.
And now here we are. A time when interests and hobbies are still what seem to define us as people. The first question someone usually asks a person on a first date is, “So, what do you like to do?” Even resumes have a place reserved for “special skills,” or perhaps more aptly called, the adult version of the hobbies and interests section on your old AOL profiles. If you don’t have a particular skill or hobby, people seem to look down on you, or worse, suggest that maybe you should find a hobby. As if the fact that you don’t play the violin or hate training for 5Ks makes you a sad person. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t. Just because you can’t articulate exactly what you like to do, just because what you enjoy spending your free time doing is something that isn’t easily categorized onto a list, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a legitimate hobby.
Honestly, I have never met a person who doesn’t have a hobby. After all, at their most basic level, hobbies are things you do in your free time that make you happy, and you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to other people about them. Whether you like sitting in metro stations just to people watch or collecting lost love letters found on the street doesn’t really matter. Yes, these activities are difficult to neatly fit on a list, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.
Sometimes hobbies can be something just for you, not to impress others or to prove how interesting of a person you are. It doesn’t matter if people understand what or why you like what you like. In the end it’s about what makes you happy, and everyone else worried about the legitimacy of your interests can get a hobby.
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