Tell me about your offbeat hobbies!

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My spouse and I are sunk deep in the why-am-I-working-here-blues. Whenever our lows coincide like this, our household becomes a miserable depression sinkhole. This time around, I’d like to have something to get us out of our apartment (difficult for one introvert and one person with anxiety issues), and I keep coming back to hobbies.

But I’m stuck! We can’t agree on any of the regular crop of hobbies and activities — crafting, collecting, yoga, fishing… Basically, hobbies that give us too much time inside our own heads haven’t worked for us. And I think it’ll take something really amazing and different for us to pluck up the courage to leave our hidey-hole.

You guys are always full of surprising, fantastic ideas and projects (seriously, how do you come up with them?!); there’s just got to be some great extra-work-ular activities out there! Any ideas?

Care to share any beekeeping… pottery-throwing… long-boarding… car-camping… personal experiences? -ErinSue

Comments on Tell me about your offbeat hobbies!

  1. Roller derby was my answer when I was in a similar situation. After I graduated college, I found myself bored without homework, studying and the like (I NEVER thought I’d say that while in college). I stumbled upon a local bout and was hooked. It’s a great mental and physical challenge. I’ve also gained a whole new crew of wonderful folks I don’t think I would have met without the sport. 5 seasons later, it’s still awesome!

    • I can’t second this enough. I love roller derby. My husband volunteers as a non-skating official and is starting to train as a referee. It gets us both out of the house, exercising, and we volunteer for other organizations with the league.

    • Looove roller derby. I’ve been involved for almost 4 years now and I still love it. i go in phases where i don’t have the time or money to be a skater, and during those times i am a ref. the nice thing about being a ref is you’re automatically important and involved and the other refs tend to be brainy introverts who are really welcoming. i really found my niche with reffing, though skating is still fun. so, if you’re out of shape, lacking health insurance, or you think playing just might not be your thing, consider reffing! yay team zebra!

    • Derby seems so fun but I wish there was a double-plus-super-powder-puff league for people with the size and strength of bookwormish 12 year olds ;-P

      • In a lot places there are leagues for beginners. I know quite a few tiny women that started out doing that until they had built up the strength and skill to be in a more competitive league. You should look into that!

        • Oh good to know, I’ll have to check that out. (And maybe work in 6 months of roller skating and push-ups on my own beforehand, heh….)

      • Seriously. I would love to try roller derby but I’m naturally uncoordinated and unathletic and pretty weak. And I’m over six feet tall and 200+ lbs, so when I fall, I fall HARD and do a lot of damage.

        • My sister was the most ungraceful, unathletic person you had ever met in your life. Valedictorian, editor-in-chief of her high school yearbook, big plastic glasses and braces, involved in academic competitions FOR FUN, worked at a library… The whole nine yards as far as being a stereotype for a high school nerdy girl goes (not judging – my family makes one kind of kid).

          After college, she went to one roller derby bout and was hooked. She practiced, practiced, practiced CONSTANTLY and three years later was voted the captain of her team. Every single day I am so in awe and so proud of her and what she’s accomplished. If she, of all people, can do it, well you can too.

      • my derby girl crush is about 5’1″, maaaaaaybe weighs 110, and is a spindly, pale ginger. we started right around the same time and she was constantly falling, didn’t know how to give or take a hit, and was easily intimidated. Now? she’s a fucking beast! the tiny girls learn how to go fast and become heroes of the league.

  2. Costuming. It takes mental work to figure out how to replicate something (especially on the cheap), then the physical work of actually making the thing. It’s easier said than done, especially when you’re working on something that was done by top-end Hollywood costume designers or that was animated/computer-generated and never actually existed in the real world. Then at the end you have a little escapism from the normal hum-drum of life.

    • I took up costuming as a hobby at high school, because I love the challenge of not only creating, but studying and researching different styles / eras / film designers to work out exactly how things are made…..

      ….And now I do it for a job, and get to travel the country working in theatre and film, and on TV shows and commercials.

      Sometimes, if you’re lucky, your hobby turns out to be exactly what you need to be doing with your life, even if it seems so, I don’t know, nothingy (?) to start with!

      Another suggestion that I always come back to is youth organisations!
      I’m a Venturer leader with Scouts New Zealand, and I love it!
      It really really helped me to be more confident, because children are so totally ok with you being whoever you want to be, and how can you be uncomfortable in your skin when you’re surrounded by adorable little kidlets who idolise you just for being a grownup?!

      • Kids don’t just like you for being a grown up, they’ll like you for being a cool, kind grown up. The kind we all want to be like when we’re kids πŸ˜€

    • Hmmm I dunno. For me, costuming falls into the “in my own head most of the time” category the OP is trying to avoid. Yes, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment when I’ve completed something, but it’s still a pretty personal one.

    • I can’t make costumes (yet) but I’ve gotten in to cosplay recently, and I’m loving it. Because I can’t sew, it takes about a month for me to put every costume together — finding the right pieces at the right prices (cheap) and customizing the accessories. And I love seeing the costumes slowwwwly come together. It’s a slow burn hobbie, but totally fulfilling.

      I’m hoping to get into (and be successful at) armor-making with Worbla soon, so I can make Cersei Lannister’s awesome lady-armor.

  3. My husband and I love bicycling β€” the scenery generally gives us something to think about, and when we’re on quiet country roads, we can also talk with each other. Occasionally we ride with other people, but mostly by ourselves (commuting) or together (going places together, or going for recreational rides). When we have the time, we love bike touring β€” going camping by bicycle. We went on a three-week trip for our honeymoon, and it was fantastic! We met lots of neat people along the way (and we’re both introverts, although my husband is more so than I am), and generally had a blast!

    • While not right for everyone, you could try a tandem bike. It will take more communication and teamwork, but might help you feel more focused and in sync. It can be a great way for two mismatched cyclists or even one cyclist and one person who’s not so comfortable on a bike to exercise together. And exercise is a great way to battle depression.

      • My family had a tandem bike when I was kid. What a lot of fun!
        But this might be too much for an introvert, since you get a lot of funny stares from on-lookers.

  4. Board gaming. Local libraries sometimes have groups that meet. Or, your local gaming shop. Or, I like the costuming idea too. You could create costumes, or sewing projects at a local sewing store, or park district with classes to learn more. And take those costumes out for cons that you might be interested in, or even Halloween. In either of those scenarios, if you’re coming in from the beginner standpoint, you’ll not only learn a lot, but meet others interested in the same things (within a structured environment that you don’t have to have too much invested or committed to – for those with anxiety or introverted tendencies, that’s important). And the conversation and learning will keep your minds occupied.

  5. Until the age of 27 I never had hobbies. I don’t like any activity that involves what I call ‘forced groups’ (a group you belong to with people you don’t chose), like sports teams, game clubs, or – oh horror – girl scouts. I don’t like schedules or long-planned classes either.
    The only after school activity I felt a bit comfortable with was the theater class, because there I could pretend to be someone else.

    Sure, I go to lots of bars and concerts, but you can’t really call that a hobby, can you? Oh, and I read a lot. That’s sort of a hobby.

    Lately I evolved from (almost) no hobbies to two hobbies. They’re not really offbeat. Quite average, really. But I truely enjoy them.

    I sew and I run.

    I like running, because I can do it by myself, whenever I want to. It challenges me, it really empties my head and I feel great afterwards.
    It’s not easy to get started, but it’s manageable if you set goals. The first 2 months I followed a very strict training plan, because I wanted to do a 5K race.

    I like sewing because of the beautiful fabrics, the act of creating something and the beautiful vintage patterns. It can be very simple or very complicated, but one thing is for sure: when I sew, I only think about sewing.

    I don’t know if that helps, but I hope you will find a hobby that makes you happy.

    • YES to running! I was soooooo NOT a runner (my roomate’s favorite interaction from when we were in college: Her: “want to come for a run with me?” me: “Why? Is something chasing me?”) but I needed to start exercising and who has time to get to the gym or the pool? I started doing couch to 5k and now I’ve done a triathlon and routinely run 5-6 miles. It makes me feel so good to set a goal and meet it, and I have found it really really helps my mood. My husband isn’t quite there yet, but we did go for a jog together and I was like “ohhhh, look! We can be that couple! You know, the one that everyone hates as they jog along together!”

      If you’re worried about getting out of your own head, the first several hundred times you go for a run, you’ll largely be thinking about how not to die from exhaustion or lack of breath, and then you’ll be consumed with the pride of making it X distance. And then once you’re a decent runner (however you define that) there are tons of 5ks that are just fun and not competitive which adds the “get out of the house and meet new people” element.

      Good luck!

      • I agree with running! My whole family is made up of marathoners, record holders, etc. and I was the one person who could barely make it around the block. But I also struggle with depression, and I realized that one of the best coping mechanisms for getting out of my head was to put on some running shoes. The endorphins really do help! My husband comes with me now sometimes, and it’s a great way to spend 45 minutes together, getting caught up on each other’s lives. Maybe a good solution to the “miserable depression sinkhole” is to do something physical!

        • I absolutely agree. Yoga taught me: to get out of your head, get into your body. Now my husband and I have added rock climbing and couch-to-5k walk/run with our dog to our daily life. Physical activity is the absolute best thing that I have found, even though I was super adverse to it. Just pick something that sounds fun or adventurous and don’t do it to be “good at it” or get in shape. Play! Surprise yourself with adventures! Just move the body. It’s literally life-changing!

      • Ha ha, I was just headed to the comments to also say “yay, running!” It’s low cost (you basically just need shoes), can be done just about anywhere (and is a fun way to explore new places), can be done as much or as little as you want (one mile, 5K, marathon, whatevs), has awesome health benefits (like Nicole, yay for keeping depression in check!), and races are sooo much fun.

        “hobbies that give us too much time inside our own heads haven’t worked for us” One thing I like about running is that I can either use it as a time to get in my head or stay out of my head. I can run with someone and socialize, listen to podcasts or books on tape, run-slash-dance with an awesome playlist, or go in silence to either think deep thoughts or zone out.

        • Double yes for Running! I never was a good runner (still am not that great) but it has that ability to be introspective but also social. Running outside or on trails can really help to occupy your mind as well. Also, as someone who has dealt with a severe anxiety disorder for forever, this has been one of the most single best opportunities I have found for helping it. It worked for me, it may also work for others!

  6. I volunteer with a dog rescue- most evenings I’m either doing homechecks or adoptions, and at least one weekend a month we have an adopt-a-thon at one of several local pet supply stores. It gets me out the house and I get to meet hundreds of interesting people and talk about dogs! Granted I’m a little more involved than most because I’m a coordinator, but any rescue or shelter can use volunteers to walk dogs, clean kennels, or help at events.

    • Yay for pet rescue! I used to walk dogs for a local shelter, and it completely prepared me to adopt a dog of my own, not to mention helping to exercise and train the shelter dogs. Now I volunteer for their special fundraising events where I do face painting.

      Since the author mentioned being introverted, I wanted to mention that there’s a pretty big variety of jobs in a pet shelter. Walking the dogs, cleaning the cages, etc. were pretty good introvert jobs. Even face painting is suitable for an introvert since the person you’re painting can’t talk and there’s a script you essentially follow.

  7. This wouldn’t necessarily get you out of the house, but what about starting up a tabletop role playing game with friends. I’m somewhat introverted, but I look forward to our weekly game nights. It gives us all a chance to be someone else, to imagine fun things, and to lead a very different kind of life. If you’re feeling up to it, you could even check out the local gaming store. They usually have open game nights for a variety of different kinds of games.

    Another option would be taking a class together. Languages are a great option because you already have a study partner to help you get through the awkward beginning steps. Cooking classes are also great because they’re so hands-on. You won’t have time to be stuck in your own head.

    If you want something more outdoorsy and crafty, you could try letterboxing or geocaching.

    • I second the tabletop roleplaying games.

      My boyfriend got me into them, and that’s how we have met some of our closest friends (as adults! Not even in college!). It’s also how I came up with a character whose story is now my first novel.

      There are tons of tabletops out there, and your local came store or Meetup can help you find the right one for you. If you guys enjoy learning tons of things and studying up, D&D or Pathfinder might be for you. If you’re story-driven and don’t like keeping track of details (like me), try Dungeon World.

      If there’s a fandom you like, there’s a game for it. For example, there’s Star Wars, Farscape, Firefly, Call of Cthulhu, even Terry Pratchett’s Discworld!

      This hobby branches out into writing for the storytellers, figure painting and character drawing for artists, landscape pieces for model builders, and LARP for those who want to get moving and swing nerf swords.

      Also glasswork.

      It’s not tabletop, but it’s pretty cool and fused glass is falling-off-a-log-easy.

    • Thirding the tabletopping!

      My husband runs a small campaign for some friends at our apartment. We run roughly monthly, when there aren’t crazy other things like our wedding, Thanksgiving, or Christmas complicating our schedules. It’s nice for a lot of reasons, but to this topic, particularly the fact that it’s small-scale socialization with good friends. I’m getting to know my friend’s partner better though game, but this friend is someone I’ve known for YEARS. She was the violinist in our wedding as a gift (and she learned a Nightwish song for said because she is AMAZING!)

      If neither you nor your spouse feel up to running the game yourselves, you could offer to host, or see if there’s a game night in your area. Local game stores are a good place to start looking, and, failing that, places like comic stores often have postings.

  8. ROCK CLIMBING! If there’s a gym in your town, I’d definitely recommend it; it’s an awesome way to spend the time, a really fun way to exercise (because it doesn’t feel like a workout), and it’s great for couples, since you’ll be taking turns belaying/climbing. Plus, it can be an indoor or outdoor activity!

    • As an extra bonus, it requires you to focus on the task at hand (the next hold) and not your everyday thoughts, anxieties, etc. At least in my experience, if I’m not 100% focused on my next move, I fall every time. This is the primary reason I love climbing, it’s almost meditative (for me).

      • This is exactly why I love rock climbing so much – and why I’m so excited that the city I’m moving to has a gym. Even though I’m really self-conscious about just about everything (seriously, the amount of thought I put into what to wear when going anywhere – particularly a physical activity like climbing is freaking ridiculous), when I finally get onto the wall, I can’t concentrate on anxiety as well as concentrate on getting up that wall, so while I’m climbing, that’s all there is.

    • Thirding! Definitely forced me out of my head when I first started climbing. If the belaying and gear sounds intimidating, try bouldering.

      • I back this up! Bouldering specifically. My husband and I were recently introduced to bouldering and we cannot get enough of it. Granted we live ~2.5 hours away from Yosemite so we can get a little spoiled, and a Touchstone climbing gym about 40 mins away.

        I took some time warming up to it because I have NO upper body strength. It’s amazing how much progress you see between each session, and the mental break you get from being out there focusing on the climb is incredible. I can’t recommend it enough to try at least once. Like this community, the climbing community has very friendly people.

    • Was totally going to suggest rock climbing too! It’s an amazing workout, and it’s great because you can be at completely different levels and still enjoy it together (climber/belayer style). And you can meet other people, but only if you want! It’s great for self-confidence, and pushing yourself just a bit further each time. Dooo ittttt!! πŸ™‚

  9. I knit and crochet, which makes me get out of the house a few times a week when I go to a local coffee shop for late night knitting. Otherwise, the hobbies my husband and I share at this point are a little bit of tabletop gaming, and a LOT of homebrewing. Homebrewing gets us out of the house to visit local breweries and vineyards, as well as going to different brewing supply shops to pick up supplies. The benefit of this hobbie: making even 1-gallon batches tends to be very “all hands on deck”, and when we finish, there’s homebrew for the hubby (I don’t drink) and extras to use as gifts!

    • Everyone in my house of 6 people brews, and what I’ve found is nice is that it can be as social (or not) as you want. On brew days, it is a lot easier to have an assistant, and it’s a pretty chill day of occasionally getting up to do something and tend the beer. Then when you’re done waiting for it to be ready, you can have a tasting party (depending on batch size) or take it to a local brewing club where people share what they’ve made and can give you pointers. Where I am in the Bay Area, there are also lots of events and festivals put on by microbreweries. I’m not sure how much you’ll find elsewhere, but it’s definitely growing in popularity.

  10. If you like any of the skill-based hobbies you mentioned in your question, but also want to add-in a social aspect, you may want to look up your local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

    I’ve been doing SCA for about 4-5 years now and it’s really helped me expand my social circle (I’m also socially anxious), as well as work on “just me” hobbies — sewing, crafting, etc. It’s as intense as you choose to make it and you can utilize what you’re learning or skills your developing for a conversation jumping off point. It can also allow you to try new hobbies you may not have gotten the opportunity to do otherwise.

    The focus of the SCA is European and contact cultures dating until the death of Elizabeth I of England, so you have a broad range of sources to pull from depending on where your interests may lie, even if it’s not in the strictly historical research/documentation arena.

    The website to find your local group (this is a worldwide organization) is SCA.org. No matter where you may be located personally, chances are there’s a local group near you. You can send out a feeler to the local New Person Coordinator (often called a Chatelaine).

    • My brother did a bit with the SCA while he was in school β€” they had a medieval dance group, and one of the members put together a medieval dance to the tune of the Tetris theme song!

    • Seconding SCA!!! My experience is currently primarily limited to Pennsic War and research done at home, but Pennsic has a pretty good breadth of what the SCA has to offer. You can take classes pertaining to particular skills–anything from cooking to blacksmithing–you can take classes on the history of a culture you’re interested in–or all of them!–or, if you’re more the physical type, you can even compete in a variety of forms of melee combat. The combat is quite rigorously checked and prepared; there’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt at all, but safety is absolutely the number one priority (though it is followed closely by fun).

    • I used to work in my univeristy’s student union building. There was an American war re-enactment SCA group. They always met one Saturday night every month in the student union building. Not a big group, about 12-20 people. Their group was definitely “off-beat” and was something different than the usual happenings.

    • I also recommend the SCA. My particular activity of interest is archery, which I find to be good if you like doing things along-side people (so you don’t have the stuck in your own head problem) but aren’t always comfortable making conversation (sure, you *can* talk, but you’ll probably go back to shooting before too long).

    • I’m so happy to see others who’ve had contact with the SCA! Vivant! I’ve really enjoyed it.

      I’m a big research nerd, but I’ve also tried my hand at heavy combat (armored, knight-style) though it didn’t stick with me. However, in my friend group, we’ve got people into all different aspects, to fully explain the different sub-hobbies you can get into. We’ve got:
      an archer
      a fighter
      a fencer
      a blacksmith
      a couple dancers
      a new-person coordinator for our local group
      seamstresses galore
      a glassworker
      a bardic arts champion
      a few heralds
      some cooks

      We’re all able to be in the greater hobby together, while helping each other out with where our passions lie. It’s been so great in helping keep all of us together! And, as mentioned, I’ve picked up some new friends along the way.

    • I was also coming to suggest the SCA. They recently put together a new portal for newcomers, http://welcome.sca.org/

      What I love about the SCA is the diversity of skills/stuff/focus you can do. Culturally I’ve seen everything from continental Europe, to Japan, to North Africa, to even a few North American personas. Time span is from as early as you can (I saw a Minoan at an event once!) to the 16th Century, and disciplines run from hand crafts, art, design, athletics and more, but also include things like organizing events, tracking and organizing tournaments, doing volunteer work and throwing parties. There is something for everyone in the SCA, in my opinion, provided they have an interest in history.

        • the dressing up part, I’m sad to report, is mandatory. The rule is officially “an attempt at garb”, so there is some flexibility if you’re not the most skilled.

          I don’t know about any events you may have gone to, or if you may be thinking of a different organization/event, but, here in the East and I know in most other Kingdoms, we all speak modern, vernacular English, or the dominant language of the area in which the event is taking place (i.e. French in Quebec, German in Germany, etc.)

          • Oh, I didn’t go to an event, I was just looking at the website. I guess something there gave me that impression, but I must have been wrong!

          • Ooh – did you say Germany? I was just getting ready to look up if it’s here too. I only knew it from the states. πŸ˜€ Thanks!

        • The other thing about garb is that we cover different time periods and cultures. I love, love, love middle eastern garb when I know I’m going to be busy as that’s basically wearing a comfortable pair of pants. It’s the same reason I love salwars.

          Now, if I’m going to relax and chill out, I might wear the high court clothes- ie the Tudor stuff I have.

          • Dressing in Middle Eastern or Indian clothes would be comfy and pretty, but how do you keep it from getting cultural appropriation-y? I never want to step on anyone’s toes and hurt or offend them, so I err on the side of caution. But maybe I’m just erring way too far on the side of caution?

          • I do the same with picking and choosing which type of clothing I want to wear that day… usually I shift from wearing Indian in the hot summer weather to Turkish, Persian or European when I need a little more coverage (archery) or it’s cold.

            As for the issue of cultural appropriation I haven’t run into it very much in the SCA, possibly because of the research behind the action? If I’m in public and someone asks me about my clothing I answer with what culture/region it’s from and what time period (e.g. 15th Cent Ottoman)

    • I was also going to pipe up on participating in the SCA. For me it’s been a great multi-generational community that you don’t “age out of” in the way that you do school, and if you move there’s a good chance that there will be a new group at your destination (and traveling for events means that you’ll still see people who don’t live near you any more) And for me who has a habit of hobby of the month behavior, it’s a relatively easy access point to a variety of skills. While I’m not a bookish person per se, I do very much enjoy academic research and craftsmanship and so it’s been a very fulfilling hobby πŸ™‚

    • Another SCAdian here! I’ve been in the SCA about 11 years, and my fiance 16. That’s how we met. We’re getting married at Pennsic πŸ™‚ I love it because it’s great for the whole family. My now 14 year old daughter competed and won a royal baker competition at the age of 10 (and I don’t bake). She also does archery and blacksmithing. My 10 year old does dance and heraldry and scribal arts. My 19 year old loves European dance and weaving. I do scribal and heraldry and spinning and dyeing and drumming. My fiance does leatherwork, thrown weapons, and music. It doesn’t matter what you love, you’ll find something for everyone!

    • Agreed on the SCA as well. There is so much to offer to almost anyone’s interest, I personally do chivalric fighting, culinary arts, archery, and calligraphy. Being in the group has allowed me to validate and share my offbeat crazy interests without feeling ostracized so I can be me. My fiance is also involved in the SCA and works with fencing and siege engines (currently working on a full-scale trebuchet)

  11. I volunteer at a wild bird clinic. At least once a week I work a shift in the clinic which means cleaning up after , feeding, and providing medical treatment to bald eagles, hawks, falcons, crows, ravens, swans, and the like. I’m also being trained to give educational presentations with a bird on a glove. I’m learning and having fun and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. It also keeps me so busy that I can’t get too much into my own head while I’m there. If you like animals then I highly suggest looking into volunteering for a local shelter or clinic.

  12. Ever thought about taking up dancing? Depending on where in the world you are something social and not-too-serious like Scottish Country (not just in Scotland – look up the RSCDS) might just be the ticket. I’ve found that in most corners of the world there’s a group who’ll be over the moon to have you.

    • I’ll second social dancing, of any ilk! Swing (my personal fav) or ballroom dancing (and/or blues or salsa, if you’re okay with fuzzier personal space boundaries), or if you don’t want specifically partnered dancing, ceili/contra dancing (which are like square dancing, kinda…). There is structure inherent in the activity, which is GREAT for the socially-awkward (*raises hand*), if you’re dancing with other folks than your spouse, you’re being social without having to generate ideas or small talk, and you tend to meet awesome people. Seriously, great hobby for introverts. Also, it’s fun! Physical activity (which will make your blahs better anyway) that doesnt feel like exercise and makes you new friends, total win.

      • I am hopping on the dance train. Because DANCE. It’s SO MUCH FUN.

        Most cities have something where you can go for like an hour lesson and then there’s dancing afterwards into the night. And there’s pretty much always a huge range of skill levels, so you’ll never look like the only person who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    • I started Bollywood dance classes a year ago. It’s great! It’s physical activity, mentally challenging because you have to remember the steps, the timing, your hand and arm positioning, etc. I’m one of two non-Indian women in the class and the other women are really nice. I love the music, the challenge of dancing, and the fact that we do perform – 3 times this year!

    • Scottish Country dancing is so fun! And in my experience Scottish Country dance folks are super welcoming and lovely!

      The only issue I have with it is that it makes me anxious that I have to find a partner to dance with. If you’re going as a couple, that would make that aspect easier (although people will probably be welcoming and invite you to dance with them).

    • I was going to say this too. One of my hobbies is tap dancing– I take it at the local community center and it’s awesome! Good way to get a workout (mild or intense depending on your level) and it’s really satisfying to stomp around in the floor.

      Another activity my husband and I do together is playing with the local terrible orchestra. You can look up “terrible orchestra” on google and you might be able to find one near you (we are with the terrible adult chamber orchestra of Silicon Valley). It’s perfect if you used to play an instrument a while ago, or if you play an instrument poorly, or if you play well but hate practicing and want something that’s no pressure. We meet once a month and have snacks and sightread famous orchestral piece excerpts!

      Perhaps not so offbeat, but I’m very active in local choirs as well. Singing is my number one hobby and it’s my favorite. Around here there are choirs for many different skill levels so if you have a song in your heart, there’s always a place to let it out.

      • Oh my god, terrible orchestra sounds amazing. I still have some musical instruments lying around that I don’t really play anymore but don’t want to get rid of, and that sounds like the perfect excuse to dust them off and play!

    • Introvert with anxiety issues here. We took four months of swing dance classes earlier this year, and I was terrified before every single class but felt great afterward. Everyone else is as nervous as you are; I’m pretty sure some people were just there because their therapist made them…

      If dancing with others is a dealbreaker but less couply dances don’t sound fun, I’ve seen a few classes where you don’t have to switch partners (not the best way to learn, but it does get you out of the house).

      • My parents do dance classes that require partner switches and they just DON’T. They only dance with each other. And they’ve both ended up pretty decent dancers!

        • I’ve done this with my partner (dances that required switching but we just didn’t switch) and gotten called out on it. I mean, they let us do it, but they made it clear it wasn’t ideal. The result was that I was always kind of nervous about going, not knowing whether I should switch or not…

    • Contra dancing is awesome, too! It’s pretty easy, the dances are called so you always know what you’re doing, and there’s always someone to push you in the right direction if you get confused. I have found the different contra communities I’ve danced with to all be super welcoming for newbies.

    • Dancing is my fav, and I actually met my husband while we were both dancing at a music festival.

      My favorite dance activity now is hoop dance (basically dancing with a hula hoop). Going to classes and workshops is my favorite activity of all time.
      It has so many sides to it, there is the circus aspects of the tricks, meditation aspects, integrating it all into a dance flow…
      So much fun, all with just a plastic circle!

  13. I’d recommend action pistol shooting. It’s super fun, safe, gives you both a physical and mental outlet, but doesn’t require much initial skill (apart from basic handgun safety/operation skills). Everyone I’ve met has been super friendly and helpful to newcomers. I’ve also found it to be a perfect sport for an introvert- because for the majority of the event you’re wearing ear protection, you don’t have to stand around talking to people for vast quantities of time. If you’re interested in more info you can find a club in your area by googling USPSA which is organization that runs it.

    • Shooting is like meditation for me. My mind has never felt so quiet than when right before I shoot – it is amazing! Then after I shoot I feel this rush of adrenaline. It’s a wild ride, but ultimately teaches skills like staying calm, not over-reacting, steady muscles, and proper safety. Plus if the world ends, then you have a usable skill to impress (or repell) roving bands of scavengers.

  14. GEOCACHING! It’s basically a worldwide treasure hunt where people hide little (or big) containers and you have to find them. You can get the app on any smart phone for like 12$ and it’s well worth it. You’ll be banging down your own front door going out to find these fantastic little treasures. It routinely get my and my husbands fat asses out and moving around, staying out much longer than we would have otherwise. We’ve discover so many amazing places we didn’t know existed, including the park where we got engaged and married! Check out the website for a much better explanation. http://www.geocaching.com

    • I was going to suggest Geocaching! Definitely love that it brings you to little parks or secret locations you wouldn’t otherwise know about. I use a regular orienteering GPS since I don’t have a smart phone, but I also routinely find that many caches at parks, rest stops, etc can be found simply using Google Maps (copy/paste coordinates, then satellite view zoomed way in) and the clues provided.

    • I was going to suggest geocaching as well! I get lost in my mind a lot, sometimes in a not-so-great place, so having something to focus on really helps. I love going on a geocaching expedition that involves a hike so that I can get exercise and search for treasure. It’s a great hobby because you can do it alone or with lots of people. And as other people said, I end up discovering the best places in my area that I didn’t know exist!

    • This! I’ve wanted to try it for ages, it looks so fun!

      Just as a note, though, be careful about where you put your containers–there’s been a few incidents of SWAT teams being called in because geocachers were…er…somewhat furtive in their attempts to hide things and it kinda freaked people out.

    • Letterboxing, too! It’s like geocaching, but instead of gps coordinates it uses clues. Some are really easy, some are mind-benders.

    • It’s using multi-million doller satellite technology to look for tupperware in the bush!

      There’s a free app too, called c-geo, I didn’t used to like it, so I bought the official one, but it’s had some updates and my friend recently got it, and it’s possibly even better than the official one now.

    • Geocaching is the ultimate outdoorsy, introvert, active hobby. Other than going to an event, you don’t run into people, you get to see some of the most AMAZING places in your town, you can do it everywhere you travel, you get out, and it’s super fun.

      199 finds, and going strong!

      • Hubs and I participate in an odd offshoot of geo-chaching: wreck chasing. We hike out to old plane crashes (20+ years old) to see if we can still find wreckage. It’s a great hike, a little macabre without being gross, and uses tracking and navigational skills – GPS wasn’t so good back when these things went down. There’s a small community, mostly male, that shares information.

  15. This sounds like The Spouse and I! Anxiety issues and an introvert.

    Pottery is awesome. In my area there is an art center that I took classes at, but after I had it down pat I signed up for Open Studio time. You really focus on what you’re doing and there are so many things to make and experiment with. Also, what about metal working, glassblowing, origami, or some other specific art? They all require that you focus on what you’re doing instead of introspection.

    I know with introversion and anxiety this might not work, but LARPing could help take you out of yourselves in a way. You would be really involved making costumes and researching and then once they’re on you could literally be someone else. Could be therapeutic even.

    I also second Geocaching. It’s so much fun because the ones in wooded areas make you feel like an explorer and the ones in plain sight make you feel like a spy trying to get to it without “muggles” seeing you do it.

    • And you’ve hit on my third offering.

      I can safely say from experience that LARPing can still work out with the right community. My husband is a bigtime LARPer, and I’m the most socially anxious bundle of neuroses you ever want to meet. Getting into a character takes the focus off of ME–if someone doesn’t like my character, that’s not ME and MY shortcomings, it’s a role I’m playing and something that I can step out of at the end of the day. Obviously, I don’t deliberately play obnoxious characters, but if I don’t jive with another character, that’s two layers of pretend between the real people. One of the nicest people I met at a LARP played a character that mine thought was too naive to be out in the world, but the player turned out to be really cool. Consider the characters a degree of social insulation–you can be a little off kilter, or you can be a super-exaggerated version of yourself, but it’s safer than just putting yourself out there because you can always tone it down, and most games I’ve played will allow you to reroll after a game or two if you’re just not digging your choices.

      • Depending on where you are in the world you may be able to find ‘theatreform’ LARPs being run- these are one-off games with pre-written characters (though most GMs will put out a questionnaire for players so they can match you with a character you’ll enjoy playing), usually last about 3 hours, and are a lot of fun!

        Not that the long-term campaigns aren’t fun, of course, but if you wanted to just give it a try, I’d recommend theatreforms, or possibly being ‘crew’ for a game (where you play monsters and villagers etc for players to interact with). Costumes are usually provided for crew, so it’s an easy way to give it a go.

        Here in NZ, the LARP community are a friendly bunch who are always happy to help out newbies in giving the hobby a try.

  16. we’re sport shooters…though neither of us have had the money for it lately. he wants to get into competition shooting and i just want to get more proficient with the firearms i have.

  17. I have to second a few ideas that have helped my fiancee and I: Crocheting. Geocaching. Biking. Board Games. Volunteering.

    Another activity you might consider is birdwatching. After I read the two books Crow Planet and What the Robin Knows, I suddenly began to see the natural world around me in a different way. I’m lucky enough to have a river less than 5 minute walk from my apartment, but you don’t necessarily need to find a pristine environment to look at birds: they’re all around us. I recommend reading those two books, then getting a bird feeder and a small pair of binoculars. It makes walks so much more interesting.

    Another hobby that works wonders for my fiancee: homebrewing. He can be sort of anxiety-prone, but when he is homebrewing, he is IN THE ZONE! He loves it, and the only negative is that once you get into it, the equipment can get expensive. He often spends his afternoons looking longingly at conical fermenters online.

    • Homebrewing is a great hobby. If you’re not big drinkers, you can give them as gifts for friends and family.
      And if you don’t drink beer, you can home-ferment wine, or home-distill liquors.

  18. I hit the same place three years ago. I started writing a blog. The topic itself was unimportant I think – it was a creative and practical learning and socially engaging process.

    Admittedly I am a fast learner… But I have since become a well respected member of the community I write about, have been invited to media events alongside paid journalists, and am getting invited to events as an “expert” (nothing major but it’s still fun!) and even make a teeny tiny bit of income fork it.

    I also learned a lot! So much in fact that I am now transitioning out of my non-profit job and into the tech scene as a direct result of all the skills I picked up as a blogger.

    One caveat is that the thing I started blogging about cost me money. I have a not insignificant amount of credit card debt because I didn’t think about it in a business way earlier. But… It’s still way less than going back to school to get me an MBA would have cost so I am calling it a net win πŸ˜‰

  19. Things that keep both my husband and I sane: ultimate frisbee. I’m terrible, he’s not bad, but either way it’s great exercise, and I’ve met a lot of great people through the local organization. There are noncompetitive leagues in my area, so the emphasis is on fun for me. And having scheduled games makes sure you actually show up and do it.

    My husband started doing wood working, now that we have some disposable income. He got most of his tools off Craigslist from retired people moving to FL and not taking their tools with them. He needs a hobby that is difficult and keeps you focused, and using power tools and putting together patterns requires that. And bonus, he can make custom stuff for wedding presents, etc.

    My hobbies include gardening since we have a little backyard. I can plant a couple of each plant and experiment with growing something new. A little bit of exercise, lots of planning since I’m into companion planting which turns your garden into a seating chart puzzle. I also took a beginning painting class from the local art museum taught by a real live artist. It was a little overwhelming going to the first class, but I like it after that because you knew what to expect for the next 10 weeks. I also have a sewing machine, but I don’t really have (make) time for that.

    It’s both of our tendencies to stew over problems at work/school, so having engaging activities to focus on at home is so important. When we have time off, we also plan it, which is something I picked up from the husband. When we schedule it, it helps us focus on the moment and think “This is the only thing I’m supposed to be doing right now.”

    Other random ideas:
    -projects around the house/apt like customizing or painting a bookshelf, coffee table, etc.
    -making lotions or soap or candles
    -origami- that takes 100% of my brain power to figure out, haha
    -lots of organizations need website managers (like shelters listing adoptable animals on the website) if you have skills like that you can even do that from home sometimes
    -learning a new style or type of cooking- the hobby with tasty results

    • I would love to learn soap-making!

      Painting classes are great–and you don’t necessarily have to have some great level of skill to do it. I was somewhat afraid of the idea of taking a class until I did an icon writing (painting) workshop this past summer–what a great experience! Even though I have a somewhat artistic bent, the idea of having someone tell me “how” I “should” be doing something initially scared me–icon writing (think Orthodox Church, not computer) is much more specific in its execution than a lot of other types of painting. In the end, though, I found the whole process to be extremely meditative and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

      Gardening is one of those “hobbies” that I’m working on. I have gotten better over the years with plants, but I still tend to kill things. Having said that, I do enjoy planting seeds and seeing them sprout and grow into something beautiful. Depending on what you’re working on, it can leave you with a certain amount of time to let your mind wander, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your situation. BUT, it has that flexibility to be a semi-social activity, or a totally solo one.

      Speaking of gardening, you could volunteer for a local CSA or something. I confess I haven’t done it yet, but I would think it’s another of those things where depending on what you’re doing it could be very social or something that wouldn’t require a lot of socializing.

      • My husband and I started making soap (we gave it as favors at our wedding) – it requires some precision but in the end it’s not really hard and you can have fun combining different scents and textures, etc. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to get the lye, but should be possible. There are lots of tips online.

        One thing: I would recommend starting with a very simple rectangular mold where you take out a big brick basically and then slice off the soap (as opposed to the molds you see in craft stores). You don’t have to worry much about bubbles, you can do some nice marbling with colors if you want it to look fancier, and you don’t have to worry as much about the consistency, curing, etc.

        Also: We got a precision digital scale (it only goes up to 250g) and had a lot of success using it.

        Lastly: Try to resist making too much because, well, soap lasts a long time and your family WILL get tired of getting soap all the time. πŸ˜‰

  20. Dancing!

    I started belly dancing about a year ago, and I’m in love! Best part?

    The same place offers world percussion classes, which I roped my fiancΓ© into trying a few months back. He’s hooked too.

    We each get to do own thing and meet people, but there’s a ton of overlap – it works fabulously!

    • My mind is a constant stream (often, freight train) of thoughts/ideas/ponderings. One very rare task of destruction? Bellydance. You’re either thinking about learning a new move or so enjoying the moment in dance there’s little room for other brain-chatter. (And OH the costuming!) Have met some incredibly beautiful people, and yes, there’s a wonderful section of drummers for your S.O. if they don’t dance themselves. This is all coming from the shy, introverted, clumsy, uncoordinated, self-conscious one, FYI. So even if you’re thinking “sounds fun, but..” keep in mind you never know what you might be missing if you don’t step outside your comfort zone every now and then πŸ˜‰ and IMO, American Tribal Style is the way to go!

  21. Archery is pretty rad, too. It’s like golf, but with the potential for self-defense. Plus you get to imagine yourself as any number of sexy movie archers.

  22. For getting out of your own head, I don’t think you can beat volunteering. My guy & I spent a couple of years as volunteer tutors for adults getting their GEDs. It was all one-on-one tutoring & was really fulfilling, since most of our “students” were really motivated to learn, and we felt like we were really making a difference for them. Both of us were in grad school at the time & the tutoring gave us a lot of much-needed perspective on life outside the ivory tower. It does require some courage to take responsibility for someone else’s learning experience, and we enjoyed that challenge.

    • I really recommend tutoring! Tutoring can also be a way to make some pocket change. I tutored languages all through undergrad and law school to make some extra going out money (I’m a polyglot with a BA in linguistics). If you have a degree in anything, you can tutor high schoolers in it.
      It’s totally a thing for introverts, because it’s just one-on-one, and you hold all the power in the tutoring relationship. Teaching is different than a discussion, because it’s goal-oriented and can be planned ahead of time.

  23. I never realize how many hobbies I have until I start writing them down. One thing that always gets me out of a slump is cooking. Especially when I’m “too tired” to cook. Those are the times the it is most rewarding. There is something very relaxing about kneading bread dough or methodically cutting mint into chiffonade. And the best part is the extremely tasty and satisfying result.

    I’m also a collector. I don’t scour the internet or anything, but my fiance and I like to go to flea markets during the summer months to look for interesting things for our home. We bought all our groomsmen, dads, and ushers vintage cufflinks for our wedding this way. And I am particularly a collector of vintage Depression glass. It’s something that runs in my family (much like cooking, haha) and each woman selects her own pattern. There’s no rule against overlapping or anything, but no one yet has collected the same pattern. It’s fascinating to learn the history of these pieces and how they became so ubiquitous.

    My fiance and I have also discussed taking up fencing in the near future. We learned that we both have always wanted to learn sword-fighting so we’re going to join a local club.

    Other things we do with our spare time: restore & reupholster furniture, organic gardening, canning & preserving, online gaming, candy-making, home decorating & DIY remodeling.

    • Yes to cooking, collecting, and furniture work (both refinishing and reupholstery)! Actually, the furniture-related stuff is also great because, even though it’s extra work, even with getting supplies, it usually turns out less expensive than buying a new piece of furniture that resembles your finished work. I will never understand the people who buy a new couch every time they re-paint their living room…

  24. You could go to YouTube for some truly offbeat hobbies. My husband learned to make bows out of PVC after watching videos of The Backyard Bowyer. Now we go find an open field and shoot arrows at targets, which is fun, cheap, outside, and good for taking out some frustration. Plus, we get to give each other nicknames like Katniss and Hawkeye (he claimed the archery nickname “Katniss” for himself).

    • PVC weaponry/shooters are a lot of fun. Potato guns, marshmallow shooters, t-shirt canons…** Then you get to go out and play with them! If you get good at making them, you can sell them at craft fairs or on etsy, eBay, etc.

      **Not legal everywhere.

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