3 Ways to Sustain Your Pandemic Hobbies in The “Normal” World

Ryan Porter

Girl holds camera in front of faceDanilo Alvesd/Unsplash

Keep baking sourdough bread; just make less of it.

Returning to “normal” actually sucks.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy more and more people are getting vaccinated. The overall population is safer as a result, and that’s what matters most. But working from home was just so convenient.

  • Snacks were available at any given time
  • My dog was my only coworker (even though she liked to bark when she knew I was on a Zoom meeting)
  • I saved a lot of gas money

My anxiety with the world reopening is complicated. It’s more than figuring out how to return to work to teach students safely. I’m more worried about the subtle nuances of in-person work culture.

Let’s take a journey to March 2020.

I was given the ultimate excuse to slack off, stay in, and play video games with my friends every day. It was a fun couple of weeks of limited responsibility and a renewed appreciation for gaming.

My mind turned on me shortly.

I felt stuck in my parents’ house because remote work didn’t pay as much. I tried making up for lost capital by creating various digital products. One could argue my product creation was like a pandemic hobby, but I didn’t do any of it solely for the joy of doing it; instead, I just saw dollar signs.

I realized early on that calling these side hustles “hobbies” flew in the face of the purpose of a hobby. Hobbies should fulfill a creative void in the heart. For example, I love using my camera to document trips with my friends. When I used photography purely to make money, I lost motivation to shoot at all.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I had a newfound interest in writing. What started as a money-making scheme instead turned into a love affair. However, I question whether I can maintain the writing hobby in a Pandemic-less world. Now, I have a new job as well as a client I edit videos for. Balance is needed.

If you feel the pressure too, don’t worry. Despite the obvious fears, I’m confident that if we keep just a few things in mind, we’ll keep our hobbies for the rest of our lives.

So what can we do?

Integrate your passions into social events

Naturally, as more of your friends get vaccinated, they’re going to want to make up for the lost time. They’ll want their own version of Miami Spring Break 2021, and they’re going to want you to join them.

You’ll feel an exhilarating rush when returning to your normal scene, but what about your ceramics habit? You picked up pottery during the pandemic, and you’ve played with clay every weekend since.

Since there’s only so much time in the day, you might have to make some sacrifices. You may have to choose between your new favorite hobby and a night out on the town. Time will slip away, and the less time you spend with the hobby, the less likely you’ll be to return to it.

Solution: Get your friends involved.

Hobbies are limitless, and I can’t cover them all. Some hobbies simply exert energy. Others defy the laws of thermodynamics and create art as a result. If your hobby leads to a product, make gifts for all the friends you haven’t seen recently.

Wine and dine them for the first time in a year, and present them with a work of art as a parting gift. Or better yet, have a silent auction with them and put the money toward the dinner. Your friends are your most significant currency.

Get your friends involved in your hobby. Don’t just tell them why you like it, show them. Assimilate them, for lack of better words, if you must. Many hobbies aren’t lone wolf activities. They just were this last year because they had to be. Get your friends involved, and they might like it too, which will only further motivate you.

Reduce your hours

The purple Titan who almost succeeded his goal of wiping out half of the universe’s existence, Thanos, said it best:

“I am inevitable.”

Having less time to yourself is also inevitable as offices start opening up again. I saw someone tweet that commutes should be part of our salary. It’s funny, but the reality is commutes take up a large chunk of the day.

Add a social event on top of driving to work every day, and you have a lot fewer hours in your day to design new 3D printing models.

Here’s my solution: Identity how many hours you spend on your hobby each week. Weeks, rather than months, are easier to conceptualize. You may have to time yourself for a week before you really know.

Social events are fun, but they take away from your hobbies. A party is going to reduce your free time significantly. That’s time spent getting ready and going to the event.

The point isn’t to force yourself to do the hobby because you think you should. Balance is key. It’s good to get outside and meet people. It’s also good to commit yourself to a passion project.

Keep the hobby. Adjust your day around it.

Remember why you started your hobby in the first place

One day in July 2020, a wave of anxiety washed over me. I felt an unusual feeling of worthlessness. Like many others, I felt stuck in life. I didn’t have much to work toward, which meant nothing to look forward to.

I started writing for the first time since college: this time for fun. I blogged, read about blogging, and found other bloggers that I could relate to. I discovered a community of people who actually enjoy reading and writing.

I dug into the blogosphere. I loved learning about the ins and outs of long-form content writing. I went on my own journey and realized that writing isn’t about money; instead, it’s genuinely a hobby meant to be enjoyed.

I consistently wrote a minimum of three stories every week. Then I stopped for a few weeks. I got a new job and focused on that for a while.

“Maybe my stint as a blogger is over for now,” I thought. The world is opening up, and I won’t have time for it.

What a silly little idea I had. After a few weeks, I felt recharged and ready to resume my hobby with newfound strength.

The bottom line is that when you feel like giving something up that you love, you might just need an extended break. There’s no pressure to do something if you’re doing it for yourself.

Solution: Write down all the reasons you like your hobby. I’ll name a common pandemic hobby that people picked up: Running.

I’m a runner too. Because I was stuck in the house more often, I used running as an excuse to get outside. Just because I’m going to be a bit busier doesn’t mean I’m going to give it up.

  • Running is keeps me in shape
  • Running makes me feel good
  • Running burns enough calories so I can eat all the protein bagels I want

Convince yourself that your hobby’s benefits are too important not to include in your life, even if you have to trick yourself.

Final thought

Hobbies became the new moment makers during the Pandemic. We needed something to pass the time, which meant baking bread or finally learning how to play backgammon.

It’s okay to replace your new hobbies with old ones, like pick-up basketball. I know I’ll be back in the gym once I feel safe to do so. That’ll take up more of my time, but I know it’ll make me happy.

The point is to do what makes you feel good. Work, friends, and social pressure will inevitably get in the way, but it’s something different. Change is the spice of life, and it’s something to look forward to rather than worry about.

You can put as much thought into this as I am now, but if you could do something new for a whole year, you can find some time for it for the rest of your life.

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I write about startup culture, productivity, and life's moments. My goal is to serve as a teacher for the next generation of content creators.

Los Angeles, CA

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