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. 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. 🙂

    • 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)

  2. 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. 😀

      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.

  3. 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!

  4. I admit this isn’t a real hobby if mine and I don’t do it regularly but I’d love to: aerial yoga.

  5. 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!

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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. 🙂

  9. 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/

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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. 🙂

    Good luck!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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)

    • I LOVE curling!! We have a wheelchair team at our club as well! Man they are awesome! There’s no way I would be able to throw like they do without sweepers!

      • I know, right? I’m lucky to get it anywhere near the house, forgettaboutit if it involved zero sweepers.

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