Tell me about your offbeat hobbies!

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

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

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

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

Comments on Tell me about your offbeat hobbies!

  1. 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! 🙂

    Good luck!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!!! 🙂

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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! 😀
        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)

  12. 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!

  13. 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. 🙂

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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. 😉

    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

      • Laughing out Loud at our cake toppers. I totally loved them, but they were definitely not traditional.

        What’s league of legends?

    • 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.)

  20. I knit. I co-organize a “Drunken Knitwits” group in Boston where we knit at bars. Because, why not? 😀 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.

    • If you can make a hat or mitten, you can totally make a sweater 😉 The techniques are identical; fit is a little pickier, though.

      • 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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 😉 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.)

  25. 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 🙂 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 :).

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