Finding a Hobby with Rachel Morrison
Note: This was written prior to COVID-19, and has been edited for relevancy.
Imagine you have a problem. You’re fighting with your husband. You can’t seem to stop spending money online shopping. You’re figuring out how to meal prep. A friend of yours has been getting on your nerves lately. Now, imagine yourself working to find a solution. What are some of the first steps you take?
When I have a problem, I reach out to my closest friends. It usually starts off with a quick text and then plans to get drinks (when we could go to a bar and get drinks..). I’m a talker, and I like to have a drink in my hand when I hash out what’s on my mind.
Right after my wedding I found myself with a #firstworld problem. I was really, really bored. It’s a feeling that has intensified over these last few weeks. But pre-corona, I was feeling restless and I couldn’t put my finger on it. After some self-reflection and a ton of journaling, I started to realize that for the last 5 years I’ve always had a hobby on top of my career and dating life. When I left college I spent my time volunteering and networking to establish a career. Then, I volunteered for a wonderful organization called Chicago Women in Publishing where I was President for 2 years. This past year, I planned a wedding. Since 2015, I have always been doing something. So when all of those activities fell away, I felt like there was a gap in my life.
Unfortunately, there is no online course for finding a hobby in your twenties. It’s a problem that not many people address because maintaining a career and a personal life is enough. But for those of us who feel restless with our day to day, it’s tough to find a path for yourself. It’s also tough to justify a new hobby. Hobbies often cost money, time, and energy that you may be afraid to invest in. I know I am! Every time I look up a cross-stitch class I get turned off by the price tag and the class hours. $150 for a class on Mondays and Wednesdays? Forget it.
Even now, it’s hard to find something to fill your time that doesn’t require expensive equipment, a ton of space, or insane motivation.
So, I went back to my problem-solving strategy and phoned a friend. I called up my friend Rachel Morrison (okay, I DM’d her — its the Millenial version of a call!) and asked her to grab a beer at her favorite local spot, Pilot Project.
Rachel is the kind of woman who has an Ariana Grande mentality: “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” or in her case, “I do it”. She is always instagramming her latest adventure and it is always enviable. For example, Rachel runs a successful beerstagram (@beergogglesblog), is learning Spanish, leads us in virtual #beeryoga every Sunday, writes for a beer blog, and is studying for the Cicerone exam — all while maintaining a relationship, friendships, and working full time. NBD.
So I felt she was the perfect person to talk with and learn more about how she dives head first into a new hobby. As we cozied into a spot at the polished oak bar, I started to pepper her with questions. My biggest question was, “HOW??”. How do you decide on a new hobby, and from there, how do you decide to make the commitment?
She softly chuckled before diving into her response, “Many of my friends actually think I’m crazy. They ask the same thing — how do you do it? I’ve definitely had to sacrifice sleep at times, like when I was working several jobs and going to school part time at the College of DuPage. But I’ve always prioritized and that extremely busy time in my life taught me to stick to my priorities. Sleep and working out are non-negotiables for me, and if I feel like one is more important at that moment I have no problem cancelling to make sure I’m taking care of myself.” She goes on to say, “I also think — I’m not committed. I can always end it, I can always stop if I don’t like it. But I push myself to do ‘just one’ and usually when I do it I feel so much better afterwards. Then I decide if I enjoy it and want to keep going. I have the satisfaction of knowing I tried.”
I nodded, pen in hand, scribbling this wisdom down. What I took away from her experience is that I need a perspective shift. I don’t have to have a hobby for the rest of my life, and if something isn’t working with my current priorities it’s OK to choose reading or my favorite TV show over a yoga class.
Rachel took a quick sip of her Manana de Mallorca and continued, “I also find that when I’m busy, it’s easier to pick up something else. Since my time is so managed, I’m able to find a couple hours each week to fit in something new.” This made complete sense to me. It’s really difficult for me to find the energy/willpower to get off the couch once I’m home. But if I have an hour to kill between appointments, I’m more likely to find something to fill that time. That still requires me to start having activities to fill the time between. I pressed her a little bit more. How does she decide what hobbies she wants to pursue?
I asked more about how she started her beerstagram and how she found her love for craft beer. I have found it difficult to decide between something I love, and something that is realistic for me to do every day or every week. She nodded along to my explanation and followed up, “I think a lot of my hobbies start with wondering how something works. Like @beergogglesblog started because I saw a couple of other people with food or beer instagrams. I wanted to know what the process is of becoming a beerfluencer and a female one at that. It’s hard work, but I’m glad I started and I do enjoy keeping up with it. I check in with myself every couple of months to make sure I’m still enjoying it and it’s not draining me”.
We both took a moment to let that sink in. I really loved the idea of starting a hobby with a question, “how does this work?” and letting yourself explore the answer with no real agenda. Rachel admits that for her other hobbies (like learning Spanish, or teaching yoga), she doesn’t have an end-game in mind. She’s not looking to be the busiest yoga teacher in Chicago or learn a language so that she can move to Spain. She’s just letting herself explore these avenues of interest.
I was stunned by this realization. In my adult life I’ve always told myself, “I’m so busy, I can’t take that on” and taught myself to think of time as a valuable commodity. By doing so I’ve devalued “play time”—time dedicated to simply explore. After talking with Rachel, I realized that she compartmentalizes her time and prioritizes those hours where she gets to do something just for the sake of learning more. No wonder I’ve admired this trait from afar, it’s something I’ve never done in my adult life. After this conversation, I know I am going to work on scheduling more hours to learn more about the things that really interest me and not put pressure on myself to make a goal out of it.
Once we finished our second round we closed our conversation with the classic “let’s do this again”. With Rachel, I know we will.
I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.