The facts don’t lie: Trying to make friends as an adult is terrible. People often want to talk about the finish of various craft beers; the jokes you make more often than not have the word “fistula” in them; everybody who’s nice to you at the gym is just trying to get you involved in their pyramid scheme and about 64 percent of people you meet in cool bars think Jonathan Franzen is a genius. It’s exhausting!
When all the old tricks have failed to earn you the kind of lifelong, drive-into-the-Grand-Canyon-holding-hands kind of friendship you’re seeking, the options are clear: Celebrate every birthday alone until your landlord finds you drowned in a mixture of Cookie Puss and tears… or get yourself some hobbies.
Okay, you’re right; hobbies are terrible. They’re like all those extracurricular activities your parents forced you to do, but full of dudes who drive Audis with vanity plates. Well, buckle up, you friendless weirdo, because Kevin the “DNGMSTR” from Thursday’s adult dodgeball wants to hit up a club called something like “Slam” or “Tuck.”
Of course, there are benefits to having hobbies: They fend off dementia; they give you something to talk about with people you have nothing in common with, from your parole officer to your significant other; and the fine art of James Spader cosplay isn’t going to teach itself.
Here’s what to consider before you commit:
Do I have time for it?
For most gainfully employed young people worked to the bone by whatever bespoke sandal-maker or penny-farthing blog offers the best benefits, time is in short supply. When deciding on whether or not you should join that ornithology club or learn how to do the Charleston, consider how much time doing so will actually take. Will you have to leave work early? Are there away games and will your mom be worried? Will you have to give up your precious second nap? Before committing to anything, keep in mind that the best kinds of hobbies (and the ones you’re most likely to show up for/do more than once) are undeniably the ones you can practice while watching TV or while waiting for an open table at brunch.
Is it super expensive?
Jesus Christ, hobbies are expensive! This is why only girls with names like Blythe and Sable join sororities — the rest of us are too busy working out payment plans for the irregular contact lenses we ordered from North Korea on eBay. In my expert opinion as someone who writes essays about hobbies for the internet, any kind of time-, energy- and cash-consuming activity should only be undertaken once you’ve done a thorough cost/benefit analysis. If shelling out a few hundred bucks to play softball after work with a bunch of strangers means you’re no longer able to contribute to your IRA, it’s probably not worth it. If an activity is under 100 bucks, will occupy your usual couch-sitting time for a month or two, and could present a networking opportunity, go for it — like I always say, there’s no friendship more lucrative than the kind you make with people who spend their free time dressed up like extras in “Little Big League.”
Where did all this sweat come from?
As a person with suboptimal self-esteem and the nerves of a rabbit during a clinical trial for amphetamines, I am prone to sweating at inopportune moments. It’s the reason why you won’t find any silk in my wardrobe and why, in photos of me at parties where I only know one or two guests, I look like Rob Ford during a press conference (RIP). It is okay to use your distrust of other adults who like to meet strangers and the high social and emotional cost of looking like you swam to most social activities as an excuse not to participate in them. I don’t personally like wringing a kiddie pool’s worth of sweat out of my clothing just to be able to say I spent an afternoon learning to make ironic cross-stitches to sell on Etsy. If your nerves mean you’re not actually going to end up participating in your newfound hobby, it’s okay to sit this one out until you’re ready.
Should your sweat glands prove as ambitious as mine, try these non-competitive hobbies that burn about as many calories as a hard nap:
- Knitting in silence
- Napkin art
- Model trains
- Reddit (air-conditioned basement)
- Chamber music
- Ruining furniture with chalk paint and French slogans
- Drone voyeurism
Are the people who do it terrible?
In the words of Michael Stipe and a handful of guys who have tried to convince me of the merits of group sex, consider this: Even if the hobby you intend to pursue is inexpensive, fits nicely into your schedule and gives you a reason to put on non-elasticized pants after 5 p.m., it could still be full of men’s rights activists and people with names like Blythe and Sable. In my early 20s, I once made the mistake of joining a very expensive private club (the city equivalent of a country club with no sports), only to find out that all of its other members were over 100 years old or young steampunks. Soon, I was forced into making a decision: Call it a financial loss and give up what I hoped would become a hobby of election night bingo, learning to play pool and attending fancy parties; or pretend to care about hot air balloon travel.
Well, I chose the former.
In conclusion, Webster’s Dictionary defines hobbies as “the love between a man and a boat, car or anatomically correct Japanese pillow; a communal activity or interest that leads to group sex.” So go ahead, enjoy that softball league — Blythe and Sable could use a shortstop.