Tell me about your offbeat hobbies!

December 20 2013 | offbeatbride
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
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Is this your new hobby? Photo by Cache Mania, used by CC permission.
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

  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!

      • 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).

        • 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.

  25. I adore archery; been doing it since I was 12! If you have any kind of bodies of water near you, scuba diving is amazing — it takes lots of skill and practice, and you get to see things that no one else can. I'm also an autocross enthusiast — it's motorsport, but you do it in your daily driver and navigate skill courses at relatively low speeds (50-60 mph).

    Also, just taking interesting classes at your local community college or rec center can be a lot of fun! You'll both learn something new, and — more importantly — you may meet other people who turn you on to something else! πŸ™‚

    Good luck!

  26. I've got too many hobbies. Plus I am an introvert, as well as deal with fibromyalgia – which if you are not careful can lead to horrible slumps of sadness and pain. My hobbies keep me moving, keep me proving to myself that I CAN do whatever I put my mind to and give me a huge boost of happiness.

    I bellydance for the community, the excercise, and an excuse to dress up. If there is a community that won't let you sit in your own ick, its the bellydance community.

    I also am a costumer, which is great for an introvert because you spend most of your time by yourself creating something. It also forces you out of your shell because once you put all that work into a costume, you have to show it off and the best way to do that is at event. I started costuming because I couldn't afford to buy bellydance costumes when I started bellydancing. This hobby has taken on a life of its own and a whole room of my house and goes hand in hand with bellydance.

    I haven't seen photography mentioned, which I think is the pen-ultimate introvert hobby. You can do it by yourself in your home with endless possibilities, you can do it at events with huge groups of people and it gives you an excuse to flit on the edges and run and escape to catch a shot when you feel closed in. You can do it with small groups of people. You can go hiking and carry your camera with you to document all the amazing things that you see. It also gives you an topic of conversation. If I am at an event and see an amazing costume, I have an excuse to go up and talk to people. It can be expensive, but if you do your research, and know what you are looking for, you can save tons. Best part, I can intigrate my other hobbies (Renn Faire/Bellydance/Costuming) into photography. There are also camera clubs all over the place-mine is full of introverts who come alive when together with a shared passion.

    • First of all, I would LOVE to take a bellydancing class–I've wanted to do it for years, but never found an opportunity.

      Yes to photography, any kind! I haven't done traditional black and white photography in years, but I would love to have my own darkroom someday. There are so many things you have to focus on doing when you're developing your own negatives and prints that it could really help you to get outside of things on your mind. But really, any type of photography. With digital, there's so much that you can do, too, that it could prove an equally fantastic distraction.

      • Bellydance is amazing! If you can't find a class, there are TONS of DVDs out there. A friend of mine learned mainly from DVDs and now has her own studio she teaches from and is one of the most amazing dancers I've ever seen. Teachers are becoming more widespread as well as it gains in popularity.

        Photography is amazing. There are so many aspects to it and it challenges both the technical and the creative side of the brain. Especially if you shoot manually, you learn to control your image to create the image you want.

  27. I too was going to mention geo-caching. outside, no social anxiety, uses your brain, pretty much free if you have a good gps, can be done *anywhere*.

    try it!

  28. ErinSue, you said, "And I think it'll take something really amazing and different for us to pluck up the courage to leave our hidey-hole."

    Life is really short when you think about it. Please pluck up your courage to do something that isn't really amazing and different – do something that is a little different or a little amazing. There are riches of experiences just outside the door if you just step outside to experience them.

    You never know how one little thing can open up something amazing – volunteering at a radio station one Friday night led me to meeting an incredible group of people like me who also volunteered at the radio station that night as a social/community service event. It's now 15 years later and the majority of my close friends come from that group, I've traveled the world because of those connections, found jobs, many many dates and boyfriends, etc. Just from volunteering one Friday night.

    So just do it!!! πŸ™‚

  29. Cosplay.

    Hard to be introverted when you make something you're proud of and need to show off. I attend a three day convention once a year, and am now going to attend one more this year. This hobby may be more of a danger to your budget, because while I specialize in cosplay on the cheap, convention impulse buys do me in.

    This has helped me get out of the house far more often though, I have a set of friends I always room with, and we frequent fabric store sales and thrift stores at least once a month, looking for this base clothing piece, or that accessory, or maybe that on-sale-now-it-never-goes-half-off-I-need-it fabric. And I am now also going to host a panel with said friends as well. Running a trivia game show was something I never thought I'd do when I attend my first con three years ago.

    I find it very creative and productive and confidence building, as well as showing off my inner nerd annually.

  30. A suggestion I haven't seen yet is making art with found objects or nature. I once took a design class where our professor had us collect only natural objects (without destroying the landscape, ex., fallen branches) and then create an artwork that blended into the natural landscape. My project was to create hoops from willow branches that hung from the trees. So a passerby might occasionally notice that the tree had a different texture.

    I fully recognize this can be tricky! Trespassing, trying not to damage nature or property, and time, etc. But, it's incredibly rewarding and fun. You get out of the house and make something beautiful!

  31. If you guys are gamers, you could try to create a game together on RPG Maker (available on Steam). My husband and I are currently attempting this. It's slow going, but we're focusing on time together once a week out at a new place that has wifi. That's what's important for us. If the product is your important thing, you'll probably be able to create something quite quickly, which is always good for morale.

  32. I learnt sign language. Our local college does evening classes and they're pretty cheap.

    Bonus with languages, most languages taught in a city have a need to be there, so there is likely to be a community you can meet up with. I know in my city there is a Deaf club that anyone can go to, to chat, meet people and practise vocab.

    Good luck with your hobby search!

  33. HOOPING! I've been envying all the people I see at festivals for years, and I just picked up my own this summer, just for giggles. I never thought I'd be hooked but I totally am! There's also an endless amount of online inspiration and communities for it as well. It can also be extremely social – I've gotten two others into it (and maybe even my husband. We're still working on that one) and it's such a blast.

  34. There are a bazillion awesome-sounding ideas on here already, but I don't think anyone has talked about how to figure out what kind of hobby might be interesting to you. I think that often adults forget how to play and have fun, and it can be really hard to figure out how to play again. The best advice I ever got on that was to think about what you liked to do as a kid – what did you choose to do when you had free time? For me, it was reading and making mud pies in the dirt. And now that I'm grown up, my favorite hobbies are reading, baking, and gardening.

  35. YOU GUYS, I'M FREAKING OUT OVER THIS THREAD

    I totally want to do a series of posts now about offbeat hobbies, where people write about the amazing weird awesome shit that they do in their free time. So many of these comments are screaming for photos and the full scoop!

    • I was just thinking I'd love to see a post about how to get into shootin' stuff (guns, arrows, whatever) because that sounds really fun to me but I'm completely intimidated by all the hunter-focused ranges and such (I live in the midwest so that's…all of them). Do I have to own my own weaponry? I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

      • My dad owns a guns & hunting store. I know all about shootin' stuff! πŸ˜€
        I would check universities near by, to see if they have a shooting range. I know at least 2 univerisities in Michigan that do, so I'm sure there's more out there.
        They often have "beginners" classes that they offer at any time, and many ranges (not just college ones) let you rent guns or bows to learn how.
        If there isn't a school in your area, try a search for "exotic gun range" and see what you get. In Nevada, it's pretty popular to go to ranges that have hard-to-find guns that you can shoot. And I'm sure if you ask, the range master will be happy to show you. Range masters are there to keep everyone safe, and to teach good use.

    • If you want to do one on the SCA, I can hook you in contact with a media liaison. I'd love to just go and submit an article on it, but there are some decent media rules I would want to get cleared from authority first. (oh yay it being a 501(c)* org)

  36. my suggestion is flow arts….pick up a prop! personally I've been captivated for the past 5 years with hoop dance (yes, hula hoops for adults!), but I also play with poi and fans and recently started juggling! for those of you that are introverts, there is a vast amount of tutorials on YouTube and the interwebs…I learned a lot this way. and if you want to be more social with it, there is most likely a community of "spinners" (as we call ourselves) hosting spin jams of classes close by. there is always more to learn and challenge yourself with, and I really do believe there's a prop for everyone!

    and may I also say that it's posts like this that make me <3 offbeat home and all y'all so much for sharing all your rad, interesting hobbies!!! yayyyyy!

    • So much this.

      Flow arts are fantastic for people with concerns about introversion and anxiety. Learning is easy at home thanks to the huge amount of great online resources. But when you are ready to go out and be social? Whoo are flow folks cool! From my own experience: Almost nothing in the entire world has quieted my mind like poi. If you lose your concentration, you -will- get whapped in the head. You are absolutely forced to focus on the movement and nothing else. The combination of intense physical activity and the utter focus of self preservation is truly balm for my soul. This is exponetially true for fire.

      I would also add that if you are called towards fire flow arts (which, a calling sounds like a funny way to describe it but it's a very moth-to-a-flame compulsion for some spinners!) then it is a perfect couples activity. You -need- a spotter, period, no negotiations, for every single practice if you're lighting up. Spotting each other is a rush and a major show of trust. Also it's great to have another person to ask about your form, etc. If you are well matched physically you can even get into tandem and partnered spinning, which is hella sexy whether it be hoops, staff, poi, whatever…

    • Ah, I was waiting to see if someone mentioned this stuff! At Burning Man (first time this year) I was really wowed by all the spinning talent, and next time I go I want to be able to do something for both my own enjoyment and as a cool thing for others to see. Plus having a prop helps me not feel as exposed as if I were just dancing on my own. I'm probably going to focus on hooping, but poi seems awesome too!

  37. I took up motorcycling at age 38. My husband had been a motorcyclist for years and I decided to try one of his hobbies.
    A few years later I set a land speed motorcycling record on my wedding day. πŸ™‚

  38. I don't really have time for hobbies anymore (does lesson planning/compiling my final portfolio for student teaching count??), but I love to salvage and re-purpose things I find in dumpsters (furniture, usually) into something awesome. Today, I salvaged an old coffee table from my apartment dumpster and I plan to paint it with a cool color on the sides and attach our mini ironing board to the top. I'm also planning on converting two end tables I found into a bench or something. I also read everything in sight, I'm writing two short stories I may publish into one of those anthology books that authors compile of all their stories too short to publish on their own, and I love to attempt everything I find on Pinterest just to see if it actually works.

    It's so cool to read everyone else's hobbies!! I kinda want to try them all just to see if I like them.

  39. I volunteer to guide tour groups through elephant seal breeding grounds. I'm an introvert but you could say I'm a elephant seal fan-girl. Get me talking about them and there is no stopping me. I get to socialize with other docents while I wait for my tour time, and there's no signal for your phone so it's forced me to learn some small talk abilities. Obviously where you live is going to contribute to whether or not this opportunity is available to you.

    I also volunteer for a marine mammal rescue group and get to be on call to rescue freakin' stranded seals and sea lions. As someone who didn't grow up next to the ocean I geek out about it in my head often.

    If you love animals I highly suggest checking out some offbeat volunteer positions based on your local wildlife. My husband's father volunteers at an owl rescue – who knew those existed? Check state or provincial parks for volunteer opportunities. That's how I found my beloved blubbery-weighs-as-much-as-an-SUV elephant seals.

    • Awww, elephant seals are adorable. That's awesome that you get to work with them. =)

      Volunteer groups are pretty fun. I volunteered at a local horse rescue a lot last year. The animals are super sweet (horses are basically larger than life dogs) and love the attention. Basically, I just brushed the horses but there were jobs around the ranch such as holstering, mucking stalls, grooming the mules and mini ponies, and leading small groups.

  40. My hubby and I love playing Halo 4 every night. We started playing it while we were dating, and haven't stopped now that we're married (LoL, our cake toppers were Halo figurines). It's an awesome stress reducer, and we get to have something fun to do. I've heard the other online multiplayer games can be fun and pretty addicting as well.

    Also, dance classes are pretty fun too. I took a burlesque dance class with a set of my close friends and it was a total blast. It's kind of a couple thing since you can show your new moves to your spouse later on that night. πŸ˜‰

    My last set of hobbies are knitting and crocheting. It's fun, pretty easy to pick up and low cost supply wise. Plus the amigurumi projects are adorkable. For free patterns and basic tutorials, I would totally recommend checking out Ravelry.com

    • LOVE shooting games. Pretty good for unleashing the repressed aggressiveness. Fortunately all my crap talking while playing was ludicrous enough to give my boyfriend a good laugh.

      • Oh my gosh, crap talking during gaming FTW. We come up with random stuff during our Halo sessions. Like one night, I kept randomly saying penis on the mic and my guy friends and hubster kept cracking up. XD

        Yay fellow girl gamers!!!! <3

  41. My husband and I started raising chickens about 2 years ago. We live in a very urban environment in a progressive city that focuses on sustainability. We use the chickens for eggs and companionship! They are the funniest animals and each have their own distinct personalities. We let them free range as much as we can and feed them our kitchen scraps and they reward us with the best tasting organic eggs we've ever had.

    We also added beekeeping to our backyard this year and were able to harvest about 20 pounds of honey which we used as gifts and as favors for our wedding in October. It's been really amazing to watch the bees work and check up on their progress. All our neighbors have come to see the bees and are supportive of the part bees play in our ecology.

    We also are very interested in the urban farm movement and grow a lot of our own vegetables and fruits. We believe in sustainability and leaving this planet hopefully in better shape than it was given us and recently added solar panels to our home and an electric vehicle. We frequently go to urban farming meetings, electric vehicle meetups, and bee guild meetings which keeps us busy!

  42. I took up pottery after my divorce ( I know how cliche) but almost 4 years later I have made wonderful friends there and developed some pretty bangin' skills too. I have sold art on both coasts and it is STILL cheaper than therapy! One thing to keep in mind, don't be afraid if you don't enjoy something at first, give it a real try. I don't like using the potters wheel, I spent my first 3 months trying it and i just ended up more irritated than when I started. My instructor saw my frustration, gave me a big ball of clay and sent me to a table to "do stuff that felt good" and 4 years later i exclusively hand build sculptures. I display work in art shows and in galleries and I have learned so much about myself from doing this.

  43. It's not exactly/necessarily offbeat, but photography gives you a really good excuse to get out of the house and explore/adventure. You can tailor it to your interests (portraits? landscapes? birds?), you don't have to meet a bunch of new people (though if you want to there are groups and classes), and there are even people who make a hobby out of getting great pictures from crap cameras, so it doesn't have to be *that* expensive. If you're feeling adventurous, "urban spelunking" is kind of really fun and there's definitely a big community surrounding it (but it does often involve a little light trespassing. If you're careful and don't do anything stupid you're unlikely to get caught most places, though. Having a camera can sometimes help too- people worry less about photographers than about people breaking in to drink and litter and graffiti stuff. I don't do it much, but I'm glad that people do, because abandoned places are so often beautiful and fascinating and SOMEONE ought to record them.)

  44. I knit. I co-organize a "Drunken Knitwits" group in Boston where we knit at bars. Because, why not? πŸ˜€ I've been knitting for about 6 years but have never made anything other than gloves, hats, purses/accessories/decorations, and scarves. Sweaters scare me in their complexity.

      • Sweaters scare me too. I've made shrugs, but for some reason I'm way too nervous to make a full sweater with shaping.

        Do you have any tips or know of any awesome tutorials for those of us that have sweater-phobia?

  45. I love drum classes/drum circles and, when my back is up to it, ecstatic dance – which is basically totally freeform dance which you don't need to know ANYTHING to do because it's all about the process and feel of dancing rather than how you look. I love the community and connection and sharing, and getting into really awesome flow space where I'm deeply entranced with the music and groove and my body.

  46. Oh also, if you have a dog, there are lots of fun dog-sports you could get into- agility, lure coursing, flyball. Depends on the type of dog and their proclivities πŸ˜‰ All the fun and team-building of a human sport but way less work for you, hehe.

    (I'd love to get my dog into agility but she pukes after five minutes in the car so we haven't quite figured out how to get her somewhere where she can learn. That, and antisocial tendencies. Sigh. She has a good time jumping over stuff at the playground though.)

    • After my sister went through a bad breakup, she started bringing her dogs to agility class. While both were terriers, one totally got it and loved it, and the other was utterly lost and hopeless. But for my sister, she got to meet new people, learned how she can be a better owner for her pets, and her pets learned new skills too. She said it was lots of fun!

      • Awww, haha, I suspect that's how our second dog would be. He mastered sit and shake, but anything else seems beyond him, poor sweet little dummy. But puke-dog is smart and hyper, I keep hoping an agility place will open up nearby.

      • Thanks- we haven't tried Cerenia yet- dramamine works, but of course makes her sleepy so that's no good. We keep going for short drives hoping she'll eventually get over it- the day we brought her home we drove for a whole two hours before she barfed so I kind of think it's at least partially learned :-/

        • My sister's dog (mentioned above, not so good with agility) gets car sick. We've determined that his biggest problem is the stop & go of city traffic. Highway driving is more comfortable, as is driving in such a way to reduce the jerkiness of city traffic (slow stops & starts, not coming to a full stop, etc).

    • I have been (trying to) train my dogs to pull me on a scooter or skates. I get a lot of weird looks and haven't seen anyone else around here doing it but we have a lot of fun. I hope to move somewhere with snow someday soon so we can also try skis.

  47. I don't really have anything new to offer, so I'm just going to second a few things (perhaps just cuz I wanna tell about my hobbies too!)

    I've been growing a little veggie garden recently, with an ultimate goal of producing sufficient food for the household. Hubby and I also like to go Geocashing ocassionally, We also do some archery… well… actually… we members of a field-archery and bow-hunting club, field archery is a bit more interesting than just standing there shooting arrows at a target, and the hubs actually goes away on club trips shooting feral goats in the Flinders Ranges. I also love belly-dancing, and poi (which, as an added bonus, is great for getting rid of your bingo-wings). Check out http://www.homeofpoi.com if you're interested in flow-arts or object manipulation (poi, staff, hooping, juggeling, bar-flaring), I think they even have some sections on basic acrobatics and circus arts.

  48. A great place to sample SO MANY of these suggestions is adult community ed through your local school district, city, or community center. I might be a community ed junkie! It's a great way to dabble in new hobbies, meet new people, but without investing too much time or money if it's not right for you. And being able to constantly change topics is a great way to break a rut. I've taken Indian cooking, Spanish, some dance forms (belly, Irish, Appalachian clogging), photography, massage… if you live in a metro area there are probably a lot of terrific options. Make it your New Year's resolution to take a new class (even just a one-night session) together once a month, once a quarter, whatever works for you. If you find one you love, the instructors are great resources for really plugging into the community of whatever hobby you've found.

    • Local libraries often offer classes and groups like this too.
      And perhaps another suggestion is a book club. There clubs for every genre, in more settings than just the library! (Lots of new clubs popping up in craft brewpubs in my local area.)

  49. horse riding

    hey no one has said it yet. It's a fun skill; it takes you out of your head because you'll be concentrating hard on what your legs and body and arms are meant to be doing; it's suits an introvert because there won't be lots of people; it suits someone who has anxiety, as horses are meant to be calming; and you can take lessons together (probably, they usually don't do groups until you're pretty confident, but a couple learning together should be fine)

    • Riding is a great hobby — I've actually ridden most of my life and my husband rides as well. I started as physical therapy as a child and have never stopped. We compete low level dressage, trail ride and I hope to do some horse camping in the future.

      The horses ARE our mental therapy now πŸ™‚ Just grooming my horses is super calming for me. We also try to give back in that all but the youngest of our four horses are rescues — we've taken multiple hard cases between the two of us and rehabbed/retrained them to have better lives.

      I know for sure that some trainers will do group lessons, but only once you get comfortable with the basics. If you're interested in it, look for a trainer who does beginner adult lessons and go from there :).

  50. Pen-pal with the Amish and the elderly. I've struck up conversations with strangers over the years and it turns out that the most fascinating people I've met have been the elderly and the Amish. Probably because their lives are so radically different from my own. So when I go to write them a letter, or send a photo, I really have to strip it to the core and think about what is important in my life that I can share. Maybe they won't relate to my new bike, or my kid's obsession with Disney. But they can relate to my desire to change the world, or find purpose in life, and we can talk about that. And when I get a letter back from them, discussing their regrets and successes in life, it's a perspective that I am just unable to get elsewhere in my life. It's like the antithesis (antidote?) to Facebook and online social networking.

    • What an amazing idea! I used to do pen pals all the time! I never thought of being a pen pal with the Amish. How do you connect with them?
      I haven't thought about pen paling for a long time, but that might be a fun thing to do with my son. πŸ™‚

    • I love this idea, but how does one find who to penpal with? My isst instinct is to Google, but would the Amish have that online? (Serious question)

  51. My hobby that gets me out of the house and socializing with people is volunteering/mentoring my local robotics team. I was on the team when I was in high school, and they always need adults to teach the students skills needed to build a robot and team branding. There are teams at every age level, so you can work with the age of kids that suits you best. I find I love working with high schoolers, so I volunteer with our year-round high school program.
    If you're not into robots (but seriously, who isn't?) there's all sorts of school groups that need adults: National Honor Society, band/orchestra/choir groups, chess teams. Just ask at your local school or community library.

    • Fellow robotics nerd here. πŸ˜€

      I also work with the high school kids and its super rewarding especially when they figure something out and do it well that they've been trying to do forever.

      And lets talk about how much FUN (and nerdy) the competitions are. Because they're so fantastic. its like the coolest science fair you've ever been to.

  52. Contra dancing! Trust me on that one, it's my number one vote. But also, keep your eyes open in your community. Are there lectures or classes? How about joining the local burning man community? How about looking into museums in your area? I live in Philly, and the art museum is open late every Wednesday night with a pay what you want cover. They even do yoga in the museum, which saved my broke butt during my internship last year. If nothing else, GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE! Hiking, exploring, bike riding, go and make some vitamin D. Much Love!

  53. Pretty much any hobby/interest you can find or think of or that is listed here is on meetup. You can find meetups of people who are interested in ALL THE THINGS- even the ones you're already doing that you think are too "in your own heads". If you're hanging out in a group of like-minded folks talking about the things that are mostly in your own heads… then you're not in your own heads anymore!

  54. It's not exactly a hobby, but you could maybe host an exchange student? Might get you out and about seeing your city in order to show THEM around, that always helps me as an introvert.

    For awhile I was going around with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law tasting cupcakes. We had a fake blog (as in, it didn't exist) and spent a weekend afternoon eating cupcakes and rating them on moistness and frosting taste and price. It was really fun.

    Some of my friends have moved to other cities and have started doing super cool things like:
    -double dutch
    -hula hooping
    -belly dancing
    -ultimate frisbee
    -community gardening

    I have just recently, and surprisingly, gotten REALLY into bikram yoga. I mean, I'm sorta obsessed. And now suddenly several loose acquaintances have started coming, and it's an introverted activity, helps my mental health, but since I'm going WITH people, it doesn't feel like I'm alone.

    Book clubs are also fun, if they're the right book club πŸ™‚

  55. Rock Climbing! I've learned that rock climbing can be as hardcore as Sylvester Stallone hanging from a cliff by one hand, or as mild as a bunch of 10 year olds belaying at a birthday party. I'm only baby steps above kids' birthday party level, and it's still hella fun. Belaying is super easy to learn and do; The Boy and I learned in a two hour training class at a local indoor rock climbing gym (so no camping, bugs or dirt necessary to start with). One person climbs while wearing a harness and rope, and the other person holds the opposite end of the rope and makes sure you don't fall down (there's a bit more to it than that, but you get the idea.)
    It's super fun, has a partner built into the game, and it's progressive- you can tackle more advanced (read: harder) routes while becoming physically stronger. It's like a vertical puzzle you solve with your body. I highly recommend it.

  56. You could always try Ice-skating! My dad used to take me every Saturday when I was a wee one and it was amazing! It can be so fun to go with a partner that way you say challenged and don't go into your own head, or if your just starting out you have to concentrate on not falling. That and slowly mastering the ice has a very rewarding feeling of its own. πŸ™‚

  57. I've been thinking about making a Doll's House for fairies lately. Started a Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration here: http://www.pinterest.com/vorvolaka/fairy-dolls-house/

    I'm hoping my husband can help with the woodworky construction side of things and leave me to do the fiddly sewing and painting etc. It would also get us outside for walks, looking for twigs and moss and little pinecones etc. Only problem is I have no space at home, and this would be slow and fiddly to make so would need somewhere to set it up and work on it.

    • i made some fairy funrniture for halloween at work, i was thinking of making some and selling it on etsy…. i love the idea of a fairy house…. also i want to have a go at this, check out this artist, he builds miniature structures around bonsai trees, they look amazing and would make great fairy houses. http://www.tokyogoodidea.com/

  58. Welding….volunteering with 4-H. I lead a Welding project with my husband for our local 4-H club. We teach the kids how to use the tools and they get to use their creativity, and of course I get an outlet for my creativity as well since I get to spend time creating my projects as well.

    • I was going to mention 4H! My son is a Cloverbud, and 4H is so much more than just agricultural pursuits!
      My son's projects this year are entomology and cake decorating! He is interested in doing fashion design, rocketry, robotics, and archery in the future too! I have volunteered to teach photography to our club. It's really awesome! It also helps develop public speaking skills, and children can choose for themselves group projects or individual projects. There's so much to do and learn in 4H!

  59. Don't know if you're at all musically inclined, but joining a local amateur choir changed my life. I found a bunch of great people who pushed me to work at a skill that I'd been neglecting, and I have something in my life that I'm proud of and want to show off to friends and family.

  60. My hobbies are mostly outdoors oriented. I volunteer for the parks department, leading programs for kids and the general public doing nature tours and other interpretation. It gives me an outlet for sharing with other people things I am passionate about. I don't know what your more intellectual passions are, but I imagine there have to be similar kinds of things for other types as well. There are a few husband-and-wife teams among the volunteers.

    Hiking and camping. Day hiking is pretty cheap, but overnight stuff can get pricey. However, a lot of stuff can be rented, at least in a pretty outdoorsy-place like Seattle.

    Birdwatching! Not just for old people! I am not much of a birdwatcher, but I have friends who are really into it. There are often local groups in pretty much any urban area that you can join up with to learn from, and they are always excited to share.

    Stargazing/astronomy clubs! I haven't done this yet, but I would really really like to get involved with one. Unfortunately in a cloudy place like Seattle, it seems to be something a little more touch and go, so it's harder to just to decide to do. I do make a point of being in a clear place for at least the Perseids every year.

    My husband learns foreign languages and computer languages for fun. When I was off in grad school, he decided to learn Mandarin because he was working a really boring job at the time, and needed the mental stimulation. Learning a language with your SO could be a super fun thing together, and then that might evolve into planning exciting trips. I have a horrible brain for languages, while his is magic with them, so for us that's not really a do-together thing.

    Not my thing, but I have a few friends into e-textiles, Arduino, and 3-D printer type stuff. If you have a makerspace/hackerspace local to you, they often have classes to help you get started.

    Then I have more common hobbies, like knitting, baking, running, oh and ye olde MMORPG of the now. I am awful at FPSs, but love playing video games with friends/the husband. WoW was my first, but I've played four or five others with some regularity since.

  61. Here's our list
    Role playing haven't done this in a long time but fun
    SCA I was a fencer
    Table top gaming board and card games
    Crochet
    Scrapbooking
    Plastic canvas crafting
    Photography
    Gardening
    Cake decorating
    Beading/Jewelery making
    Scuba diving
    Geo caching haven't done it but want to try it out.

  62. I volunteer as a receptionist at a local counselling service. This is really great because (a) you meet people in the office, (b) you really feel like you're doing something helpful in the community and (c) it's really good for quiet introverts because you can mostly just sit and read a good book!

    I also sing in a local choir – this kind of thing can be lovely and low-pressure if you like music but prefer to blend into a group rather than perform by yourself. Again, nice and social – but not TOO social so that it's overwhelming. πŸ™‚

    Good luck!

  63. Husband and I have a zillion things but here's just a few:
    Cooking

    If cooking isn't for you, explore new restaurants in your area (urbanspoon can make recommendations). When I moved to this area, my husband (who has lived here his whole life) was amazed by the treasures/restaurants/cool places I found that he had no idea about.

    Kayaking

    Hulu (go back and watch shows like Star Trek in order, for example).

    Rock climbing is a good workout but also fun and you don't have to be super good.

    Video/Board games (tabletop lets you decide in advance if you like a game before going out and getting it. Games like Pikmin 3 or Super Mario 3D World are fun and don't necessarily require good skills).

    Paint & Sip is becoming a huge thing near us, you can go and paint along to recreate art for your home and drink some wine. You don't have to talk to other people if you don't want to.

  64. Whitewater kayaking!

    Many local clubs and university outdoor clubs have "pool sessions" in swimming pools during the winter months in large part to get new folks acquainted with the basics and comfortable before getting on moving water. Look up your local kayak shop (go Google, go!) and ask them for pool session details. Many clubs provide you with all the gear you need and are very helpful and knowledgeable. Kayak shops can also provide you with lessons if it is something you find you're interested in.

    I love whitewater boating because it lets me experience places you can't get to any other way (you can't hike to them, drive to them, swim to them, fly to them, only boat to them). On the river, the outside world melts away, and you're in tune with something greater than you. It's just you and the rapid, and the sense of accomplishment you feel at the bottom cannot be matched. My kayaking crew are some of the closest bonds I have- it's a powerful thing to trust someone with your life, and have them trust you in turn.

  65. Rock climbing…… i used to do it and i once went on a rock climbing date. we used to go to an indoor place in the dungons of a hostoric military fort near where i lived. i keep thinking i should get back into it…. its great for introverts its usually qute quiet and great for couples… also its fun and eeps you fit, always a bonus

  66. Does playing pool count? I learned from my brother and dad when I was in middle school. I was pretty good when I was younger. My brother would take me to the local pool hall and people would bet my brother that I couldn't make that shot. One night he made about two hundred off that kind of thing. I'm not that good anymore but I still enjoy playing.

    I like scrapbooking too but it might not be that great for getting out of your own head. It is good though because it makes you focus on the good memories that you want to document. And I like thinking that future generations will enjoy going through to see what I was like.

    Running is definitely a good one for emptying your head. When I go through a rough patch, I make it a mission to go running every day. It clears my head.

  67. Improv comedy theatre! It's so much fun to just WATCH (because a hobby can also be just going out, right?). And if someday you're ever feeling the courage to do it, you can join a local club together!

    • I was just about to say impro! Sign up for a class, the skills you learn will help you to feel less introverted… even if you choose to never hit the stage yourself they can be a great way to meet great people to sit with while you watch others do their thing.

  68. I love finding classss for old technologies… I've done bookbinding, letterpress, glass blowing (fav!)

    Also tap dancing, which is really different than all the other dancing, it's really more like music, percussion with your feet.

    I've recently gotten into fitness/nutrician which I guess isn't offbeat, but is definitely something I've found motivating. I got really into Zumba and have now become an instructor!

    I dabble in cosplay and theatre. For a while I was also involved with a local steampunk society, we'd dress up and have events or attend existing events in full costume.

    I used to teach reading to adults through the local literacy council, but haven't since moving as I haven't found a program that fits my schedule, but that was really rewarding.

    For other volunteering, I've worked at shelters, soup kitchens, food bank. Also have done work with Habitat for Humanity.

    I also was in an alternative burlesque group… They were all about breaking stereotypes, women (and a few men!) of all shapes, sizes, gender or sexual orientations. I don't know if I'll be able to find a similar group again, but lately I've been thinking of picking that up again.

    So many things I've done over the years…

    Bonus idea: a friend of mine has been taking amateur circus classes!! I didn't even know that was a thing… but it sounds amazing!

  69. I like canning, shopping for produce in bulk at the farmers market and then preserving food and taking 1/2 of it to food swaps. You start to learn the work value and cost value of different food stuffs after a while an barter your goods for someone else's goods. If you're into food and of the trusting sort (though people are always willing and proud to be able to answer any questions about their own goods).

    If I didn't live in an apartment, I'm sure I'd have a crazy vegetable and herb garden in my front yard and be out there all the time pruning and picking things. Right now I'll have to make due with my patio herbs and tomatoes in the summer, never enough to (freezer) can more than basil pesto because we eat it all!

    My favorite thing about gardening and canning is that it doesn't take up a lot of space. I store the filled jars in the boxes they came in under the bed and process my canned goods in a water bath using my big pasta pot and a few small and specific canning tools. I also like supporting local farmers and feeling self sufficient in my food supply and less reliant on store-bought, out of season foods. Don't get me wrong, I don't grind my own flour or anything, but I would happily trade some rhubarb chutney for a sourdough starter or big jar of apple sauce for some raw goat cheese.

  70. Me and the husband build dollhouses. He likes the electronics work- he plans, wires and tweaks with the lighting and tiny ceiling fans. We share the woodworking, and I do all the miniature making and decorating. W have a good time going out to flea markets and antique stores looking for things to use in the dollhouses.

    We also like to "collect" historical markers. We like to walk around parts of our own city and others with the kids and photograph any historical markers we find. We've met some other couples and singles who do the same. Exercise and a history lesson. Another plus is that we've found some pretty cool little shops and food places.

  71. My hobbies are:
    processing and canning fresh food. (It doesn't always turn out great, but that's part of the process)
    volunteering with the local rape crisis center hotline — the training was intensive, but a good way to give back
    square and contra dancing, and recently, learning to call square dances
    learning to crochet
    running and cycling; I started training for a marathon while in an I-can't-believe-I'm-working-here phase and it gave me something else all-consuming to do

  72. Several of the things I do have already made the list, but my current favorite:

    CURLING

    (you know, with the rocks, and the ice, and the brooms?)

    Leagues are all over the place, and it's exceptional, even for people with physical limitations – we have people in our rink that are over 80, one in a wheelchair even. I have arthritis, and I handle it really well.

    It's a lot of fun, and curlers are just so. freaking. nice. You play on teams of four, and after the game, the two teams will sit down and socialize over a beer (or any other beverage you choose)

  73. When I moved to a small town I was so worried about not meeting people and not having anything to do. The crowd at my work told me that they were in dart league at one of the pubs. So I joined. It was so much fun! Darts is not very physically demanding and while you are waiting for your turn, you socialize and have a few drinks and cheer on your team mates. It got me out of the house, even in the winter – which is difficult because of the snow and how freaking COLD it is!
    And I met 2 of my best friends at dart league!

  74. Foraging. It's like fishing in terms of free food, but it doesn't involve as much slime. It's hiking with a goal and a built-in snack! You don't have to live in the wilderness, either. Two good starter books: Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons (the seminal work on the subject, and written truly lovingly) and The Neighborhood Forager by Robert Handerson, who provides a more suburban approach.
    Food! Botany! History! Free Stuff!

  75. I'm coming late to this and there are a lot of comments, so forgive me if this has been stated before, but my husband and I just discovered woodworking. Generally, he builds stuff and we decide how to decorate it together. You're in an apartment so doing larger pieces of furniture likely won't work, but things like bird houses and keepsake boxes do.

    Also, don't know where you live, but we just discovered abandoned barn hunting. We live in a rural farming area that's being converted to housing developments so there's some time between when the occupants move out and the builders come in to demolish things. We just kind of walk around the property and take pictures of the old buildings and imagine what life was like for the farmers/animals that used to live there. It's so much fun. πŸ™‚

  76. I'd say pretty much anything active sounds like what you need. As an introvert with anxiety issues, I've found that physically DOING something really helps me when I'm getting down in the doldrums like that. It lets me focus on something other than my problems, PLUS you get endorphins… which make you happier. Something as simple as hiking, biking, running, etc. might fit the bill, (there are groups/clubs that do all of those things together, so maybe you could join one together to make yourselves be more social and motivate you to stick with it). Some people earlier suggested things like roller derby or various types of dancing, and those would be great too! The key is to find something you actually enjoy, otherwise it's not going to help and you're not going to keep it up.

    Volunteering for a cause you believe in could help too. You'll be focused on helping others, and it might help put things in perspective when you start feeling down on yourselves. What sort of issues inspire you or get you fired up? Most nonprofits have ongoing volunteer programs where you come in for a few hours each week to do a specific job, depending on your skills and interests.

    Also, be open to possibly finding different hobbies from your spouse. You're different people with different interests and needs… and it can be nice to go do something you love separately every now and then. If you find something you love to do together, great! But don't get so focused on finding something both of you love desperately that you miss out on activities that one or the other of you might love on your own.

  77. I have totally signed up for geo-caching thanks to this post! Can't wait to get started and get me and Mr. Soup out of the house! I've been wanting to do more physical activity, but having a goal will make an ordinary hike so much more appealing.

    I'm an introvert with anxiety issues too. And it is so easy to just stick close to home. I love to garden, craft, and decorate. I find the focused work and creative outlets soothing to my soul. However I do crave using my body more. I love to hula hoop and the Mr. and I are talking about signing up for swing classes. His biggest hobby these days is Rally Cross. Similar to Auto Cross (mentioned up-thread) except it is on a dirt course. I don't drive any races (yet) but even just riding along with him is a great deal of fun! We've met some great new people… and let's be honest driving fast is a great stress reliever!

  78. One thing I've gotten into over the past year is the steampunk community. It's a wonderful conglomeration of dancing, costuming, history nerding, scifi/fantasy, makers/tinkerers…everything. It's got everything. And most of the people are really nice. One of the greatest things about steampunk is that there's no canon, so you can't do it wrong. And it's impossible to over-do, also. You literally cannot have too many accessories or layers or shiny bits.

  79. Not sure if this has already been said because I didn't read all of the comments, but for me it's brewery and winery touring. Yes it revolves around drinking, but once you get into the nuances of microbrew and wine it can be really fun to explore and learn about the unique drinks that are out there! Also, when you go to "tastings," it isn't like you're getting raging drunk. And it gets you out of the house πŸ™‚ Micro-distilleries are also becoming popular, so if you enjoy drinking, I'd suggest exploring your local options.

    Also, if you are not athletically inclined, you could join wine or beer clubs that have social events and gatherings which could be fun. I have an injury and can't play sports, so the "athletic hobbies" aren't an option for me, but I'm all about my book club and wine clubs!

  80. My first thought was remote control helicopters. It was a gift for Mr. Mints, and we sometimes go to the park to play. We bought a set of two that "battle" so it's a set actIvity for a little while. It's nice because it's low-pressure (not really competitive) and also because when depression black holes suck everything in, it didn't seem so daunting to just go play helicopters for a bit. It's slightly active (those helicopters are FAST and I chase them around).
    Also you could easily beef up the hobby part by collecting different models or tinkering/building with the electronics.
    It's fun

    • Model transport all the way. I have just got a model helicopter and it is great fun. I also love model trains and cars. They are great because they require a little concentration and you can have loads of fun creating different layouts, collecting different pieces and just playing. It is great because you can do these by yourself and not have much interaction with others, or you can go to the local club and talk to others that are interested. It means you can be sociable if you are up to it but dont have too.

  81. I enjoy watercolor painting. You might think it's too conducive to getting stuck in your own head, but I find it really challenging, as I'm constantly thinking about how best to replicate natural light patterns. It forces me to really pay attention to details of the things I'm trying to paint, and it gives me a great break from thinking about job-related (grad school) stress. Take classes to meet people–it's nice to meet new people even if you don't plan to be lifelong friends with them.

    I also make terrariums, growing mosses and plants in anything from recycled salsa jars to fancy glass containers. I spend a lot of time hunting for containers I like, planning what plants to put together to achieve the look I like, monitoring the health of my existing terrariums, and looking for neat things to add to each terrarium (little plastic dinosaurs, etc). It's a great excuse to get outside into nature to look for inspiration, too!

  82. I used to do theatrical fencing back in college. It was a lot of fun and we were invited to do shows at places that varied from Haunted Houses to Ren Faires.

    One of my favorite hobbies, wine tasting, is actually how my husband and I met. It is a lot of fun because you get to try new things and meet new people. We had a group that would meet semi-regularly and do tasting or pairing parties. People would bring wines and foods ranging from kangaroo to fruit roll-ups. Most of us were nerds of some variety as well so we had more than just wine in common. There is nothing quite so fun as mixing hobbies – like say wine tasting and video games.

    Trivia or specifically bar trivia is another hobby we enjoy. I find I think better when I have something to eat and drink. Lots of bars and restaurants have trivia nights now. Or you can grab your friends and do your own trivia nights.

    My last suggestion is science experiments (my husband and I have done mini-science dates that start with science experiments). Why let the kids get the fun experiments? Grab some things around your house and have fun. We did non-Newtonian fluids, Mentos and coke, and some kids science kits. The internet is full of suggested experiments to try or hit up the library. No lab reports required. πŸ™‚

    • My son and I have been doing science experiments recently and it's SO MUCH FUN! I bought him some books with science experiments in them, and some of the projects are super fun. We've even made up some cool experiments. It's really exciting. I love the feeling of discovering something new, but even more, I love when my son says "oh! So that is why this happens!" And applies his knowledge gained from the experiment elsewhere. It's so cool!

  83. I started playing adult sports- i.e. kickball and dodgeball this past summer after my divorce. I had never played either before, but now they're my favorite- absolutely no skill required, I joined a league meant for "independent" adults (i.e. you don't need a team), we go to a bar after to socialize, and it's active.

    I've since joined more mainstream sports teams including flag football and volleyball, but I'll be forever grateful to my first kickball team that got me moving again and feeling like a kid.

  84. Knife and axe throwing. It's a fun hobby and can be an inexpensive start-up cost as well as easily picked up and put down when life dictates it. Really only need a set of knives or an axe and a target. I like cutting rounds from fallen trees for targets, not much of a fan of a plywood target. Space and safety are big components too.

    I also love volunteering. I'm a Rover Advisor with Scouts Canada (aged 18-26). The youth are so much fun and you meet so many different people.

  85. I love glass bead making. You use a little torch and it's so fun to just watch the molten glob of glass that you're shaping. Look for lampworking classes. It's different from glass blowing because you're working on a smaller scale and you don't need a partner.

    A really great and cheap hobby is embroidery. It's so relaxing.

    My husband and I love to hike together, and take trips to hiking destinations.

    I also like to knit and read. I don't crochet much but it's great for making blankets, which you can then give away to pet shelters or children's hospitals. You can use inexpensive acrylic yarn, and if you hate what you made, you can just rip it out and turn it back into yarn.

    I agree with all the folks who suggested learning a new language. When I get bored with my job then I need to learn a new job-related skill to get re-engaged. I'm a nurse, so I'll get additional certifications and take classes about treatments that I don't know much about.

  86. It's becoming less and less offbeat, but soapmaking is my biggest offbeat hobby. The next one would probably be the one I'm starting this year, learning how to play the ocarina that my husband bought me for Christmas. I'd love to have cosplaying as an offbeat hobby, but my budget just doesn't include that right now.

  87. Karate! It's amazing for so many different reasons… It's fun, great exercise, a definite self confidence boost, helps balance and coordination, and hey, self defense!

    My boyfriend and I have just started taking swing dancing lessons, cook something super gourmet at least once a week, ski and snowboard, and are looking forward to snowshoeing again this winter!

  88. I play trombone in a 1920s jazz band. I am a truly authentic flapper (a girl, playing trombone, playing jazz!, in the 1920s would be incredibly risquΓ©) when I do this and love every minute of it!

  89. Mermaiding. Okay, so I haven't officially gotten started yet, but since I discovered it, it's been my focus.

    Mermaiding (although men and women both do this- mermen are becoming more common) is sort of a mix between cosplay and athleticism. We all tend to have a serious love for the ocean and aquatics in general. It tends to include the practice free diving and breath techniques, swimming with a monofin, and graduating to wearing a tail at some point. Some make their own tails, and some buy them- fabric, neoprene, and silicone tails are worn, swam in, and for those who are professionally mermaiding, performing in these tails for everything from kids' parties to aquariums and specialized bars and fantasy events. There have been few get-togethers, such as Merfest in NC, and there are a few more planned in other places.

    Since I have the tiniest budget to live on, and don't have the skills or the materials needed for a tail, and no current access to a pool, I'm in the planning stages to get all that. But it's been a really positive focus, gets me out of my head, and is totally possible if I seriously apply myself – which is important because a lot of what I've loved is just not in my realm of possibility due to expenses and certain limitations I won't go into. This hobby does mean saving a lot of money at first, and then making myself go out of my comfort zone. I'm ridiculously shy and don't socialize well, but if I want to practice free diving breathing techniques, I'll have to take a class. In addition, I have asthma, and the breathing techniques could strengthen my lungs.

    Also, my boyfriend is totally supportive of my love of mermaiding- he'd never heard of it before he met me. And it doesn't hurt that he loves to see how happy the pursuit of the hobby makes me.

  90. I recently became inspired by my mother in law's amazing yarn collection, and decided to teach myself how to knit. It's pretty popular nowadays with the arrival of books like "Stitch n Bitch" and cute little yarn shops everywhere, and it's so easy to learn new stitches on youtube. If you decide to take up this awesome craft/art form/post-apocolyptic life skill, be forewarned: people will say you look like a granny while you're knitting (I still haven't figured out what's wrong with that, PLUS I've made new badass knitting friends!) but then when they see your awesome work, they'll turn on a dime and ask for one! πŸ™‚

  91. Thanks for sharing your story! It can be so difficult if you have anxiety issues or you're a bit of an introvert, to just get out there and start doing something fun instead of sitting around the house. Try joining some of the local arts and crafts groups to meet new people. There's lots of drawing, painting and sculpting classes in most towns and it's something you can do together to give each other support if you're feeling a little anxious.

  92. I'm the queen of random hobbies — (In fact, I tend to have the opposite problem. I have so many hobbies that my "real life" priorities take a backseat sometimes.)

    My husband and I have a lot of similar hobbies that we do together, and since so much of our lives revolve around each other, It's quite refreshing for us each to have a hobby that we can enjoy separately.

    I just recently joined a large multicultural choir in our town. It's 80+ people, from a variety of ages and demographics. (Though, at 27, I'm one of the youngest members). I joined the choir with a girl friend of mine, and our husbands play D&D together on the same night.

    Community theatres are always looking for actors, but many times they need set designers/costumers, volunteers, etc…

    On that note, acting/improvisation classes can be really fun!

  93. Bad movies, bad music: We get together with friends over coffee and watch the worst B movies we can find, and listen to dreadful music. We laugh for hours and occasionally find an undiscovered gem.

    • My friends and I do bad movies too, on occasion! We made it through all five Twilight movies and decided they were pretty hilarious and that it was an overall enjoyable experience. However, after suffering through the Star Wars Holiday Special, I thought it was completely irredeemably bad such that it went waaay beyond "so bad it's good" territory. Have you and your friends done that one? I'm curious about your opinion on where it falls in the badness spectrum, since you have a lot more to compare it to. And what you would consider the worst movie you've ever seen!

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