Now that we’re in 2023, most people are thinking about what they’d like to achieve throughout the next year. Maybe this will be the year we finally find love? Perhaps that gym membership will finally be put to good use...
Or this could be the year to take up a new hobby?
When you’re an adult, having a hobby can feel redundant. With the cost of living crisis, many people will struggle to find the money and time to do something purely for the sake of it.
But, there is joy in finding something to do for fun, and as we get older we sometimes forget what it feels like to try something new. Or maybe go back to something we previously enjoyed, which is the case for 34-year-old Alex Brent, who is Press Officer from London. He first started learning the keyboard between the ages of 12 and 14, but he wasn’t very consistent with practicing.
“I never committed to learning things like theory, or even that many tunes, partly out of laziness but also because I didn’t connect the keyboard to the music that I was really getting into at that time (punk rock and later metal),” Brent said.
“As a result, I was impatient, and unfocused, and eventually gave it up to play bass guitar.” Brent explains that he was prompted to pick up piano fifteen years later by accident.
“My wife had got hold of a keyboard during lockdown in the hopes of learning how to play during the quarantine but didn’t get round to it. We kept the instrument in the flat though, and for two years it basically sat in the corner of our living room collecting dust.”
“I caught Covid-19 this year, and during my time off and out of boredom I learned the chords to ‘Hello’ by Adele. It was fun and easy to play, and I got to wondering about learning properly – it no longer seemed like a chore, but rather something exciting and empowering, too,” Brent adds.
Although Brent enjoys learning the piano he says it’s very difficult to have a hobby as an adult, not least one in his mid-thirties. “Finding the time between a full-time job, my voluntary work, and responsibilities at home can be very challenging and can often put a strain on relationships.”
However, he shares that it’s possible to carve the rime out but as with anything it requires discipline, routine, and focus. “For me, the piano is a fun, rewarding, and relaxing activity outside of the stress of life - so any time I can play is good, whatever I’m doing,” Brent says.
Dami who is a 23-year-old mental health nurse from London initially learnt how to crochet in 2016. “I wanted to learn how to knit, so I got the right equipment, and failed miserably so I left it.”
Mental health nurse Dami
“The failure made me put off from picking it up again but around 2019 I rediscovered the desire to take it up again.”
“Now it’s given me a new zeal for life. It’s done absolute wonders for my mental health. Also, I never get bored, what is boredom anymore?”
“It’s also taught me that I can truly learn something new and not give up. It’s made me excited to learn new things in 2023. I also feel like my child-self again, I have always been into making things so picking up this hobby is nurturing my inner child.”
28-year-old Bea, who is a Software Engineer from London, tried pole dancing for the first time at university, but she struggled with anxiety so she quit. She initially wanted to start pole dancing to reconnect and reclaim her body after experiencing a traumatic event.
She didn’t let her previous anxious start with the sport stop her from learning pole again. “But after lockdown, I knew I wanted to live life to the fullest and not be stopped by my past traumas,” Bea said.
Now she says pole dancing has changed her life. “It helped me when I was attending EMDR therapy for trauma. I feel more confident about my body and it’s raised my self-esteem.”
“If I was to rate myself in the past, I would have said 5 or 6, but now I’m a 10 out of 10 and no one can tell me otherwise.”
38-year-old Betty Andrews from Manchester, who is the founder of Woo-Woo, started learning about astrology as she was writing about it a lot for her spiritual app.
“I really just didn’t know enough about it. Plus I always enjoyed reading about my sun and moon sign and when I discovered the accuracy of how far it can really go when you know more of your birth chart, it really started to become fun as an explorative pursuit.”
“The accuracy of it all really surprises and delights me. I also then loved reading elements of my friend’s birth charts and delving more into their cosmic makeup for fun. They also loved it!,” Andrews says.
She wants to delve further so she can learn to read people’s charts professionally. “Right now it’s just fun to get under the astrological hood of different elements of people’s natal charts. And learning more about both western and Vedic astrology.”
Overcoming the fear of learning something new
It’s clear that hobbies have the power to improve the quality of our lives, so why do adults have an initial fear to start one?
Eloise Skinner who is a therapist and personal development author says “as children, we were often encouraged to try many new things - we saw ourselves as beginners, starting from scratch to develop a new skill or ability.”
However, adults feel that it’s harder to put themselves back in this position. “It can feel uncomfortable to take ourselves back to the beginning of the learning process (especially if we’re re-adopting a hobby that we used to pursue in previous years). And it can be difficult to know where to start - many of us haven’t had an opportunity to pause, reassess our lives and examine what we’re really passionate about, and how we want to spend our time,” Skinner says.
How exactly do you choose a new hobby?!
Once we’ve figured out we have the time and money to take on a hobby, how do we decide which hobby we pursue?
Skinner advises that we start with a blank sheet of paper (or note in your phone), and write a full list of everything you feel passionate about.
“If you’re not sure, try answering the following questions: ‘what am I doing when I feel most excited, or most energised?‘, or ‘what would I do with my time if I had a day with no work or family commitments?’. By examining what we care about the most, we can often find a clue to our passions or interests.”
“Then, once you have some general themes or ideas, start researching. Searching online usually brings up a host of options, tutorials and guidance - perhaps try a search like: ‘[your hobby] for beginners’, or ‘local groups for [your hobby]’.”
If you’re thinking about starting your hobby journey, Skinner believes you should start slow and make sure you enjoy it. “It’s tempting to rush into a new hobby or interest - starting as a beginner can be incredibly exciting, and can come with a huge spike in energy levels.”
“But, if you’re looking to enjoy a hobby over the long term, take a more sustainable approach - explore slowly, look for gradual improvements in skill or ability, and appreciate the small improvements as they come,” Skinner adds.
She emphasises on finding fun in your hobby as hobbies should add to your life. “If you’re not finding interest, fulfilment, or enjoyment, consider swapping out your hobby for an alternative. There are so many different options out there: keep exploring until you find something that fits!”
*Some surnames omitted to offer anonymity