Is It Ok Not to Have a Hobby?


For the longest time, I had hobbies. I loved dancing. I loved basketball. Then one day, while I was in junior college, I realized I didn’t really have a thing. A guy I dated then told me in brutal honesty, “you’re a rather passionless person.” I agreed. I used to be all about street dance or all about blogging and customizing my blog layout in HTML. Suddenly it was as if I did not have a passion. I felt lost. I quite like many things, but not enough to call it a passion or a hobby.

Funny little baby girl posing near lake. Closeup portrait
Image: Irina84 / Adobe Stock

I used to think that not having a hobby was what caused my depressive state to spike. My anxiety levels happened to be at the highest I’ve ever experienced, and most days, I find it hard to get out of bed. Unable to pick myself up to function. Most people I confided in advised me to get a hobby or find something I’m interested in.

The hunt for an alibi

So I went on my search for a hobby. I tried pottery – it was nice at first, and then it tested my patience, and all I felt was frustration. I moved on to yoga. They said it was relaxing and enjoyable. Let’s just say it wasn’t my thing. I tried going back to dancing. All I’ve got to say is, it’s harder to get back to something than to start something new. There’s something there about the ego and having to start all over again. The challenge was heartbreaking and humbling.

Is It Ok Not to Have Hobbies? - Woman Playing Guitar
Image: Joshua Resnick / Adobe Stock

Month after month, I tried something new, giving it all a chance in hopes of finding my one true passion. I went from learning crafts to picking up coding. I could never really settle on one. The counselor I spoke to after I left my job said I should do something I like, which fills my time, fuels me, and serves as an outlet. It is also through my newfound hobby that I would make more friends. Well, when you graduate and lose a hobby, your social circle exponentially diminishes.

My family and friends, whoever remained, were also stumped. They did not know what to talk to me about anymore. Our catch-ups were filled with awkward silence as they tried to strike a conversation about a topic that’s not my hobby, and I scrambled to find an answer to “what have you been up to?”

Is It Ok Not to Have a Hobby - Girl Gardening Watering Plants Outside
Image: Satjawat / Adobe Stock

I desperately wanted something to like doing. I wanted to feel that adrenaline and excitement from doing something I really like. I wanted to look forward to doing things. I found that hard to grasp. I was sad that I lost that feeling when I lost my hobbies. I wanted to fit in, to feel normal, that I have something, just like everyone else. At the same time, I was just ‘meh’ about everything.

Eventually, I got tired and gave up my search. Most times, I filled my time randomly with whatever I felt like doing at that time or made plans to follow, so I avoided the listlessness. I felt like I had no purpose in life and submitted to coasting from day to day. I threw myself into work. It made sense – it is rewarding. The more I worked, the more recognition and achievements I got. I felt like I had something to do, and it was making others happy and proud of me.

Is It Ok Not to Have a Hobby - Diving Relaxed Underwater
Image: Dudarev Mikhail / Adobe Stock

So I stayed in this state for years, still fighting depression and anxiety, experiencing the daily beauty and terrors that life brings. Eventually, I formed new habits. I get swept up by a book now and then, obsess over my plants sometimes, and jump on a project to fix up an old record player so I can go crate digging. Perhaps these are my new hobbies. Maybe they’re fleeting interests. The current me thinks it’s ok, regardless. You got a hobby, that’s great. If you don’t have one,  that’s just as cool. It’s almost like the whole debate of whether one should be a master at something or a jack of all trades.

It’s fine though

I think my social circle’s obsession with hobbies is overrated because you can’t force passion, and passions are intense feelings. I envy others who have hobbies, especially cool ones like photography, skiing, or playing video games. I guess I’m starting to accept who I am and to understand more about myself and form my self-identity without a fixed hobby in my life to commit to. It shouldn’t be an obligation or a chore. These things, activities, or interests are meant to be enjoyed. Do them, and call them yours if it’s something that brings you joy—a means to an end.

Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Fxquadro. The photo showing a submerged woman was done by Dudarev Mikhail. The image with the child smiling happily was prepared by Irina84. The picture showing a woman playing the guitar has been done by Joshua Resnick. The photo with the girl working in a garden was shot by Satjawat.

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Geraldine Lee
Geraldine Lee
I talk tech, 5G, community intelligence, social science & PTSD. Aspiring cat.
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