I’m Bad at Hobbies Now

Before I started my last year of grad school, I realized I wouldn’t have a lot of time for the things I enjoyed anymore. I like to joke that the symptoms of depression really closely align with the way grad school makes you feel: depressed, tired, hopeless, loss of interest or energy for things you used to enjoy, antisocial behavior. The only person that has really laughed at that joke was my therapist. We laughed and laughed, and then she made me fill out a checklist to make sure my jokes about jumping off a building didn’t have any sort of cry-for-help quality to them.

“My job is to make sure your ratio of funny to depressed is somewhat functional”

Going into this last year, I knew I wouldn’t have the time or much of the interest left for things I used to enjoy. I also knew that I have the memory span of your standard goldfish. So I made a list of everything I knew I liked doing, all my hobbies that would fall by the wayside, all my interests that would be difficult to pursue during the final excruciating months of my degree. My problem now is that I’m having trouble picking up where I left off. It’s hard to get interested in my old hobbies again because I’m not sure I’m too similar to who I was when I wrote that first list. I’ll include the list I wrote exactly as I wrote it because I want to complain about it more.

Things you like

  • Reading
    • Like, fantasy books what with the dragons and the swords
    • Also silly books, but those can have dragons and swords too
  • Writing
    • Silly things on the internet
    • Shitty things for yourself
    • Swords and dragons also an option here
    • Weird articles about commercials
    • Tweeting?
  • Video Games
    • The swords and dragons thing is getting ridiculous at this point
      • It’s an obsession, and seeing it listed out like this just proves it
    • Also weird science fiction ones that are either silly or silly in how seriously they take themselves
    • Buying things on Steam and then not playing them for whatever reason
    • Low-budget online games where people say awful things about you
  • Movies/TV
    • Sitcoms
      • But you’ll just keep rewatching the same 5 of these because you’re super lame
    • Horror
      • But not the kind where people get sawed in half by stuff, more the kind where a ghost might be around and the music does that whiny thing
    • Game of Thrones
      • You couldn’t bring yourself to write “dragons and swords” again could you? Everything else was a category, but you dropped the name because you are weak and ashamed.
    • Cartoons
      • Mostly the kind that are advertised to kids but definitely are not actually for them.
  • Going out and doing stuff
    • Hiking
      • You definitely talked more about doing this than you actually did it
    • Drinking
      • I see no potential where grad school will actually stop this from happening
    • Seeing friends
      • Everyone likes this. Everyone. You’re not unique.
    • Going to bars
      • You basically having drinking on here twice now.
    • Going to pet shops and telling every cat you love them
      • Totally normal. Nothing weird to see here.

That’s the list. That’s it. That’s the guide I left myself for when I finally had time to be a person again. What I’m seeing here is that either it’s a really generic set of hobbies and interests, or I’m a really generic sort of person. Either way, I’m still having trouble getting into some of this stuff because it feels like school took it from me.

Reading makes me anxious now. I got so used to being immediately evaluated for what I took from an article that even reading something completely different. Dense theoretical texts and silly fantasy books could not be more different, but the thought of sitting down and just reading is off to me. It feels like I’m not doing something I’m expected to do if I’m just enjoying a book. And then I start thinking, and the thoughts kind of fall over each other: Shouldn’t I be taking notes? What information can I pull from the text for an argument I’m making. Oh no, I don’t have an argument. I’m doing research without a point! I’m going to fail, and everyone will see me fail, and they will know what I’ve always known, that I’m just good enough of a writer to pretend to actually be smart.

There are never enough hands for me get the face coverage I need

Watching movies or tv or playing video games is a weirdly stressful even now. I think I still like them, but there’s always this nagging feeling that I’m wasting time when, in fact, I’ve got plenty of time to waste because the only deadline on the horizon is grading. I suddenly have all this room to relax, but some of the things I used to do while relaxing actually make it harder.

I’ve been outside to go to the store, and I’ve had time to get dinner and drinks with my SO or friends, but again it feels like I should be doing something else. I’ll be out, having a delightful time with all my favorite people, and then I’ll realize I haven’t been on my computer in hours. I haven’t put in any time on a project or posted to a discussion board or practiced a presentation. Then, despite logically knowing I do not have to do any of these things, I will have all the anxiety of someone who does.

The only thing I’ve been able to come back to better than when I left is writing. I love it again. It feels like I can actually take time to write what I want because I have all this crazy stamina from grad school, and now I can apply it to work I actually like and am a little proud of. I’m hoping writing is how I get to be a person again.

I talked to some friends who were also in my grad program, and they’ve had pretty similar experiences coming back into their lives. It’s hard to actually remember who we were before the stress and the exhaustion and the insanity. Talking to them made me wonder what other people do.

What do people do when they’ve only just come back to the things they used to enjoy but can’t seem to enjoy them anymore? Do you just find new things? Do the old things ever come back, and does the stress of enjoying doing something fun ever go away?


6 Replies to “I’m Bad at Hobbies Now”

  1. I’m so glad you get to come back to writing more. You’ve got a gift. A lot of my hobbies tend to ebb and flow. I’ll forget about it for months or a year, and then my interests is aroused again for some reason and I’ll go hard on it until I get bored or something else takes over.

    Your brain and body just want to take a really good nap. Some things will come back, especially if they made it onto your list more than once, and others may take new forms. I miss being in school, so I started doing literature readings and discussions on my Instagram. No homework to worry about for me, and no student papers to grade. Maybe look for new ways to enjoy the things you like. Or just veg for a while and ride the wave.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad other people go through similar bouts of lost hobbies. I think you’re right and my brain might just need that sweet time to vegetate. vegetate. The next few months will hopefully see me as a really chill broccoli.

      I could see myself doing something similar to your literature readings once I’m a little more human. No deadlines sounds just wonderful.

      Thank you for all the encouragement 🙂


  2. When I was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, I put aside my favorite writing activity; I did not want something I love to be associated with something I hated. (For more on this see http://curioushart.blogspot.com/2017/10/fatal-associations.html)
    Once I started to feel better, my joie de vivre returned and so did my love for writing. You have been through a stressful experience; I recommend you don’t get too fussed about the lost hobbies–they will make an appearance when you are ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine what you went through, and it’s wonderful that you could come through and write more.

      I think my experiences in grad school must seem light in comparison. I think you’re right, I’ll fuss a bit less–or try to, obsessing is another hobby of mine though–and get back to what I can when it comes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do feel like when I’m out with friends I’m being unproductive, but then I realize if I’m doing what I need to do or have done what I’ve already needed to do then there’s really no problem.

    Work is very important, but so is spending time with your family/friends. Take comfort in the fact that I can somewhat relate to your experiences and that your friends in the grad program can relate to you as well.

    You’re not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

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