These days, no one has enough time to go to work, get enough sleep, cook food, exercise, socialise and get quality time to themselves, let alone time to maintain any sort of hobby. Long gone are the days when it was the norm for girls to spend time at the weekend knitting or crocheting, while the men were outside, doing whatever it was that they did...
Now it's easy to let social media take up the free time that hobbies once did. For one, it’s free and you don’t have to leave your house. I know that I've lost hours trawling through the depths of Instagram, when I could have been doing something far more productive, even if it was just cleaning my bathroom, or baking a cake.
Last year, I persuaded myself to ‘take up’ boxing as a hobby. It lasted about two months. Right now, while I’m writing this, I am trying to persuade myself to text my boxing coach and book another lesson for next week. It’s a battle I’m losing.
Even though it’s definitely not the easier option to force yourself to dedicate time to a hobby, in my experience it is definitely worth it. The few months in which I was boxing regularly, I was attending classes with a friend, and not only did I find the classes and what they taught me empowering, but spending time with someone in a structured environment where we were learning together was extremely enriching for our friendship.
It is important to carve out just a little bit of space in your life for something that is wholly yours and is outside of the pressure of life’s responsibilities. It’s definitely good for your mental health, and sometimes, your physical health as well (even though boxing often felt like it was actually doing me damage).
One of the only hobbies that has persisted throughout my life is shopping. It’s been a bit of an addiction, one that I definitely need to address, but recently, it became more than just a hobby. My talent for shopping (which has developed to a high standard over the years), enabled me to set up a business with my mum at the end of last year. My hobby had become my ‘side hustle’.
I’m not saying I suddenly made millions from selling stuff, but it was, and still is, a pretty great experience. In my eyes (obviously), I have pretty good taste, and it kind of seemed natural that other people would like the stuff I like… (maybe a little bit big-headed, I know). The timing was perfect – I was coming to the end of my Masters, and having that post-university, existential freak-out.
Earlier that year, I had been to a festival in Bulgaria, and while I was there, discovered a women’s market in the capital of Sofia. As soon as we decided to do the shop, I knew that was the first place we had to go. In October, we flew back there with a couple of empty suitcases and no idea what we were doing. Two days later, we were back in London with bags of rugs and blankets, but nowhere to sell them. Suddenly, I realised that this was actually a reality, and I had way more work to do.
In the run-up to Christmas, we hosted a couple of pop-up shops and market stalls, and it was genuinely the best thing ever. Not only was it extremely satisfying when people handed me big wadges of cash for things that I had sourced and chosen, but it was also fun to see that something I had a talent for could actually be useful.
My addiction to shopping and scouring the internet for new things to buy had actually become something I was good at. Like, really good. Although the shop hasn’t become my main source of income, it is something I am doing alongside writing, and it’s pretty nice knowing that something I actively enjoy is also helping to fund my life.
Moral of the story: do a hobby, even if it’s one as vapid and ridiculous as shopping all the time. You never know where it might lead you.