I didn’t have hobbies for a long time. People would ask me what I did in my free time and I’d give them a confused look and try to come up with a plausible activity like reading. I was embarrassed. Everyone else constantly doing shit. In reality, I didn’t have the energy for anything but work and taking care of life basics (and for a few years spare energy was dedicated to sex and dating but that’s different post).
I’ve been an on and off entrepreneur my whole working life. And if I’m totally candid I’ve had health issues that impacted my energy since I was a child. So while I have had things in my life other people would consider hobbies, they were slowly stripped from me. I stopped horseback riding somewhere between 16-17 when I dropped out of school. I told people it was allergies (which was true) but much of it was exhaustion. I was fighting just to keep up with obligations to education like taking tests for college and to prove I had learned enough to be considered a “graduate” by my school.
In college I was blessed to go to a school that wasn’t cool to have have parties. That made it easy to hide being too tired to socialize. Other students were in clubs. I didn’t join anything. I was thrilled to make it to my job (as a research assistant to a medical ethicist) and get home to my roommate and boyfriend to watch tv at night. I didn’t realize this wasn’t normal at the time.
Once I started my first company all I did was work. I had to socialize professionally so I spent a lot of time at fashion parties. While this is fun it wasn’t a hobby. I partied because it’s how I made my living. For a while I thought this meant I had a hip social life. Which was a nice lie. I had a glamorous job.
It started dawning on me around 24 or 25 after I sold my first company and had to relocate to San Francisco for the acquisition that other people didn’t live like I did. In San Francisco people hiked, did yoga, took classes, and all the other “bullshit” I looked down on. I looked down on hobbies not because I think work is better but as a defense mechanism. I was jealous.
All these people had energy at the end of the day. They wanted to do things! That was unfathomable to me. I could barely do work. How the fuck was I supposed to do stand up paddle boarding on the bay? I was not kind to people that had hobbies. I told myself (and they could tell) I thought they weren’t as good as me. Of course, now I realize this was the trauma of illness manifesting it. I couldn’t do what they did. Rather than feel sad or angry or some other productive feeling I decided I was better. All to avoid letting myself feel how angry I was that I couldn’t have that life.
I’ve come to accept that I still live more than most people even with limitations like illness. I don’t have to prove a good life with status markers like hobbies. Though I’m still fighting to get to complete functionality and control with my autoimmune disease. But even if I do get to a place where I can live normally I might still skip the hobbies. I’ll go straight for the pleasures like work. I’ve only got so much time so I may as well enjoy each moment with what I actually like.