There’s been a push over the last few years to teach people – women in particular – that “No.” is a full sentence.
This is an important lesson in boundary-setting, but I think I’ve forgotten how to say, “Yes.” Or at the very least a full-throated, “Maybe.”
On some occasions when I’ve said, “No” what I’ve really meant is: I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid I’ll overdo it and burn out. I’m afraid I’ll harm my mental health. I’m afraid.
And there are so many things I never start because they don’t seem worth it. We live in a society obsessed with monetization; to the detriment, I believe, of our potential hobbies. It feels like adults don’t have hobbies anymore or, if they do have hobbies, they have to justify it with all the other things that they do that are actually “worth” something: career, raising children, etc.
Once I stopped working for the fashion blog I realized that I didn’t have many hobbies. Yes, I had things I enjoyed doing: reading, listening to podcasts, but nothing that I regularly participated in. Nothing that required a commitment to and with others.
So after months of hemming and hawing I started going to a weekly yoga class on Sunday mornings. Obviously I didn’t find monetary success but what I found was community. A home. A space to breathe and slow down and laugh and honestly force myself to put down my phone for an hour. I found my body – I’m continually finding my body – and discovering how to honor and care for it. I found an hour to myself, in community with other adults. Isn’t that worth something?
Then a few months ago my brother brought up starting a podcast and my first reaction was, “No” and all the reasons why. The podcast world is oversaturated. We have no idea what we’re doing. What if people hate it? What if we get negative reviews? The imposter syndrome had crept in and we hadn’t even laid down a single track. I was so worried about what could go wrong that I never considered the radical idea of, what if I just made a podcast because it’s something I would enjoy doing? What if we never make money or have listeners other than ourselves, but we get paid in time spent together and laughter that’s so joyous, laughter that comes from so deep within us, that our sides ache and there are tears in our eyes? If that’s all I get out of it, isn’t that worth something?
Which brings me to a few weeks ago when an email went out where my daughter takes acting classes saying that they are starting up an adult choir. It’s very hard to find an adult choir that isn’t extremely competitive (or for pay) or religiously based. Instead of trashing the email and listing all the reasons I shouldn’t participate (The commitment, the fact I’ll need a sitter for that evening, my chronic illnesses, etc.) I paused. I didn’t say “No” but I also didn’t say “Yes.” I said, “Maybe” and I meant it. Sometimes I’m quick to look too far in the future without realizing where my feet are. Maybe I join and after a few months it’s not for me. Ok, at least I tried it. Maybe it’s the best thing ever and I meet new friends and discover new opportunities to perform. Maybe I simply just get to spend 90 minutes once a week with other adults who share a love of singing and tap into that creative part of me. Is that worth it? The time, the money, etc?
I heard on TikTok (very reliable source I know) that in some countries it’s not common to ask, “What do you do for work?” but rather, “What are your hobbies?” I think I’m going to try that out when I meet people after months of asking myself that very question. It’s made me curious about what I actually want to do with my time – not what will make me the most money in my free time – but what I truly enjoy doing.
Fun. We expect kids to have it, we create magical childhoods, but we should have it too. Adults deserve fun. Joy. Belly laughs. Inner peace. Contentment. Whatever a hobby does for you, you deserve it.
So, what’s your hobby?