I like to say that I was an online teacher before it was cool. Obviously, there was nothing cool about the pandemic, but 2020 was the year that ALL teachers had to make the switch to virtual education. While everyone else was trying to figure out how to completely revamp their lessons and teaching styles, I had been living my best online teacher life for nearly 3 years already.
Most of my students in 2017 – 2019 were kids in China who were trying to learn English. I worked with kids from the age of 3 up until about 14 or 15 years old, and they were all on different levels of knowledge and fluency.
The story I want to share today that relates to this month’s topic was with one of my older, more fluent students, Howard. Obviously, this is not his given Chinese name, but they liked to choose their own English name for our lessons. So Howard and I were working on a lesson about different indoor and outdoor activities – lots of great vocabulary – and there was a question at the end of the lesson to encourage extended conversation.
When I asked Howard this question, I was not at all surprised at the activities he named as his favorites: playing basketball with friends, playing guitar, and video games. Those were in his top three, but I’m sure he had a few more we could’ve discussed. Then he thought it would be fun to ask me: “Teacher Rachel, what are your hobbies?”
I mean, I’m sure I had hobbies at some point, right? It’s like a requirement of being human – have certain things that you like to do. Like… for fun. Because it makes you feel good and enjoy life. Why couldn’t I think of anything??
All I could come up with was, “Well, Howard, I’m a mom.”
I don’t know why I thought this somehow answered the question, but it was all I could come up with. I am pretty sure that “momming” is more of a life status or occupation than hobby (at least, if you’re doing it decently). I am also fairly certain that if you have Mom status, you probably feel like you have relinquished your rights to any and all personal interests and activities.
So this is what I want to talk about over the next several weeks. There’s a lot to unpack here, and I encourage you to take a hot second and consider what your answer would be to that same question. Whether you are one of my precious mom-friends who is deep in the trenches of this exhausting/glorious stage of life or a business woman who is working hard to reach the next goal, my question to you is the same:
What are your hobbies?
You might already be aware that you no longer have even the slightest clue as to what brings you joy these days (unless you are a mom, and then it is your precious offspring, of course). Or maybe you’re one of the more self-aware and enlightened women. You have somehow discovered the secret to regularly carving out that special time to nourish your soul every day/week/month. Way to go! (Also, there are lots of other women who secretly hate & love & admire you.)
My words here today are not to make you feel sad or confused or guilty around this idea of having a hobby. The focus today is around WHY they are a crucial part of life, especially as we talk about creating some breathing room in our daily schedules!
The first reason – You can’t multitask while playing, so having a hobby allows you to genuinely relax. Mom guilt has a way of creeping up fast when my kids want to play something together & I’m distracted by other things. The concept of multitasking is a big fat lie. I absolutely cannot be looking at things on my phone and focused on my kids or the game we’re playing at the same time.
There are benefits to being fully focused on one thing that you enjoy. When you take a break from the things that require massive effort and “work mode,” you’re able to be more creative. Your brain is free to drift around a bit when you’re not so focused on the daily grind.
It’s also been proven that you are able to be more productive on work tasks when you get back to them if you’ve taken a break to fill your own cup for a bit. Even if it’s just sitting outside with a good book or putting on some music I love while coloring, my brain can focus more when I’ve given it a break from the to-do list.
Secondly, everyone should have something in their life that they don’t have to be great at. How would it feel to lean into something that is NOT performance based for a bit? We can feel so much pressure to be good at being a wife, mom, friend, and whatever vocation we have. The beauty of a hobby is that you’re doing it simply for the JOY of it. No expectations, no required results. Just joy.
Do I have this completely sorted out for myself? Absolutely not. But here is what I have discovered so far: I love to read books. If there were no responsibilities in life, I would just sit with my coffee and read all day long.
I also love people, and I have discovered that I must intentionally get out and be with others on a regular basis to maintain my zen. My introverted self has to balance the amount of human interaction I have each week, but that connection piece is so important for me.
Also, if shopping didn’t actually involve spending the money that should probably be used to clothe and feed my family, I would happily do that every day. I don’t always find things for myself, but I love to find gifts for other people and pretty things that make me smile. Oh, and office and school supplies – I want them all.
Sometimes we just need someone else to give us permission to do the things we want and need to do. Is that you? Are you over there thinking or saying, “I can’t” about all of this? Because I am now issuing you a permission slip. I want you to know that you have permission to try new things.
Make a list of any and all activities you like and want to try! In case you need them, I’ll even give you a few prompts to get started:
- What hobbies have you had that you enjoyed?
- What is something you wish you had more time to do?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to try?
- Ask friends & family if they think there are any hobbies you would enjoy
You don’t need to go through a hot-mess-express identity crisis like I did when I couldn’t answer a simple question asked by a 14-year-old Chinese boy in a virtual classroom. Let me save you from that.
The most important things I want you to remember today are:
1) Play is important. You can’t multitask while playing, so having a hobby allows you to genuinely relax.
2) Everyone should have something in their life that they don’t have to be great at. There are enough roles in your life that leave you feeling like you have to perform well for whoever might be evaluating you. Find something you can do for the pure love of doing it.
3) The questions to ask when trying to find your hobby: What hobbies have you had that you enjoyed? What is something you wish you had more time to do? What is something you’ve always wanted to try?
4) You have permission to try new things! Remember? I gave you the permission slip today! You’re welcome. Now go use it.
Need help getting clarity or carving out time for these new hobbies? I’m a certified life coach, and I would love to help you find time and create an action plan to live the intentional life you’re craving. Click HERE to schedule a free coffee chat with me so we can see what the next best steps are for you!
It’s time for you to step into the star role of your life, and I would be honored to help you confidently get there.