What If You Just Stink at Hobbies?

What If You Just Stink at Hobbies?

I’ve long struggled with the concept of hobbies because honestly, friend, I’m just not good at them.

Throw a ball in my direction and I’ll probably just duck and close my eyes. I’m the last pick for any kind of sports team.

My attempts at a crocheted scarf or washcloth really deserve to be unraveled.

I don’t dance. I don’t sing. I can’t draw. I am not a board or card game person because too many rules confuse me, and I get super self-conscious and embarrassed if I lose and would rather just watch from a distance.

Are you getting the idea?

Some people carry their hobby in a suitcase across the ocean. Others struggle to keep up with their go-to in a new homeland because resources might not be available or the setting isn’t the same.

I didn’t have a hobby of any kind to keep up when I moved overseas. I dove hard into language learning and free time was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Fun and life overseas? Those two are like oil and water- there’s no mixing them. Or so I thought.

I was wrong. If we are going to keep persevering for the long haul, joy absolutely must be part of the ordinary, everyday of our lives.

One thing I’ve always loved is reading. I’m ever so grateful for parents who instilled this devotion in me from the very beginning. Trips to the local library made Tuesdays my favorite day of the week. My mom sat in the rocking chair in the afternoons with a chapter book in hand, while my siblings and I vied for the best listening spot because apparently the acoustics were better in this chair rather than that one.

In the evenings, my dad opened more books and transported us to the prairies or the forests or on many an adventure as he read us on our way to dreamland.

For the first 9 months of my overseas life, I didn’t read a single book. Not a single, solitary one. For the first time in twenty-seven years of life, I had no book waiting for me next to my bed, no tale waiting to carry me away or fill up my brain with knowledge of a new topic.

That changed when I decided to join the Velvet Ashes Book Club for their discussion of Fieldwork and I haven’t looked back since. Reading is a hobby that doesn’t require much talent. I don’t have to be coordinated or creative or have access to a whole lot of supplies.

What do I need? Time. Intention. A little bit of planning if I need to make room in a suitcase for a few real-page type books, or margin in my budget for the e-version.

Making time to read has allowed my mind and body to rest and given space for joy.

I hope you are a bit more creative and talented than I am when it comes to hobbies. If you aren’t, maybe we need to simplify the definition or expand our understanding. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Are you finding intentional ways to step back, relax, rest and rejuvenate?

The work we do is so important. We want to keep doing it longer than next week, and that means letting go of a bit of our control. Yes, I think when we say we don’t have time for something as fun and frivolous as a hobby, it means we are gripping the reins of our lives a little too tightly.

So let go just a little bit. And find something fun to do.

Any other non-talented hobby seekers out there? Have you found a simple, lovely way to step back from work so you can be filled up and step back again?


  1. Michele March 18, 2020

    I absolutely resonate with this and I have no shame in calling reading my hobby. I was told before I came to Asia that I needed a hobby and I used to do some counted cross stitch back in the day, so brought a bunch of materials for you that along. I think I took it out once. Maybe twice? I don’t have great fine motor skills and it just felt like more work in the middle of language learning. I used to enjoy cooking too, but I lived in a rented room with no kitchen for my first three years, so lost that as a hobby. The few books I had brought or ones I could borrow became my relaxation. It’s still my favorite and I’m so thankful for ebooks!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann March 18, 2020

      I’m so grateful for ebooks too! I always made space for a real book or two in my suitcase and would trade them out if I went back to the US, since there’s just something special about holding a real book in your hands. But I definitely have loved access to Kindle books!

  2. Abigail March 18, 2020

    I really resonate with what you wrote about reading bringing joy and allowing your mind and body to rest. I totally agree! Actually off to read now, thankful for libraries in Australia! Gotta make a trip there to stock up on actual physical books, in case they close for the coronavirus.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann March 18, 2020

      Yay for libraries!! 🙂 Our library in our town is closed now, but you can still borrow ebooks which is good!

  3. Bayta Schwarz March 18, 2020

    I’m with you – reading has also always been my number one hobby! More recently, I’ve discovered how much I enjoy taking pictures as I go through my day. It helps me be so much more aware of the beauty around me (in a city that tends to be more gritty than beautiful) but it also just fun. Now off to read a chapter or two of “Emma”! 🙂

    1. Sarah Hilkemann March 25, 2020

      Bayta, the picture idea is lovely! What a great way to be intentional about your day and the gifts you see around you. 🙂

  4. Theresa March 22, 2020

    This time of quarantine finally motivated me to hook up with our Stateside library resources. Such a wonderful world has opened up to me! And I’ve also really been LOVING reading Emma… getting lost in good fiction is an enjoyment I had totally forgotten. Thinking also of how to journal privately (or blog? or, like Bayta, take pictures to document life?), which I’ve also formerly enjoyed—but all the old ways I used to record my life and process thoughts just don’t fit into life here.

    Good to remember that hobbies don’t have to be big activities! So grateful for the ideas and reminders and suggestions on VA this week.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann March 25, 2020

      Theresa, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed Emma! I’ve appreciated realizing that I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel they are super talented when it comes to hobbies. I can enjoy those little pursuits and not feel guilty! 🙂

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