Being a graduate student, I think it is more important now than ever before to find a worthwhile hobby. Check out this study from March 2018, which reveals an alarming statistic that graduate students are more than six times as likely to experience depression and anxiety compared to the general population: https://www-nature-com.srv-proxy1.library.tamu.edu/articles/nbt.4089 (You will have to log in using your NetID and for those of you without TAMU credentials, just Google search “Graduate Mental Health Crisis” and you can find plenty of articles).
You are not alone if you can never seem to latch on to a hobby. I have had plenty of hobbies over the years. It’s easier to have them during the summer or other breaks when things sizzle down. However, for me, it never fails that my hobbies fade into the background every time I get busy.
I’ve tried crafting.
I’ve tried cooking.
I’ve tried painting.
I’ve tried fishing.
I’ve tried journaling.
I’ve tried gaming.
I’ve tried reading.
I’ve tried photography.
I’ve even tried learning a foreign language.
I am sure this list could go on for quite some time if I thought about it enough.
All these things were wonderful, and I enjoyed them for some amount of time, but they have all failed to become sustainable hobbies of mine. Some were hobbies that worked only during the summer months. Some were hobbies that I eventually just got tired of. Some of the hobbies simply turned out to be too expensive to keep doing.
One day I was walking through IKEA with my boyfriend and his family. Towards the end of the extensive walk through the showroom, I found myself surrounded by carts filled with houseplants. I took a closer look as I was waiting for the others to catch up. I’ve always been a really big fan of trees, but I had never really taken a notice to houseplants. They were quite beautiful.
I had managed to pick one up and before I knew it, I had decided I was going to buy it. My boyfriend had just recently had a long rant about the tackiness of fake flowers and houseplants. He never said anything about real houseplants.
When I met up with the others, I showcased my new plant proudly. My boyfriend joked about it dying within the first week of it living at our place. And that is the story of how I accidentally started my hobby.
It started with the one. Then somehow more plants made their way into my shopping cart every trip to the store. I slowly started a collection. I remember the moment that my boyfriend said, “You’ve found a hobby!” so clearly. That’s exactly what I had done without even realizing it.
You see, I was actively looking for a hobby; I just had a narrow-minded approach to finding one. I was stuck considering all the typical hobbies, so when this one made its way into my life, I had not recognized it for what it was.
I love watering my plants. I love buying new pots for my plants. I love reading about my plants. I love watching my plants grow. The whole experience is calming, and the plants give me something to pay attention to besides my schoolwork, job, and everyday life stresses.
My absolute favorite plant is called a nerve plant. The thing is so cool. When it doesn’t get enough to drink, it wilts. Okay all plants do this, right? Yes, but this one is dramatic about it. It wilts to the point that the first time this happened, I was sure I had killed my first plant. They literally lay their entire structure down over the sides of the pot. Give it some water and voilà: plant looks like nothing ever happened to it. It is seriously the coolest thing; check out this YouTube video for a better visual: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gBzA365VZA
Each of my houseplants are unique to me and I like each of them for different reasons, but I won’t bore you with all of that. I just love that my hobby is easy, exciting, and important to me.
This spring, I have expanded from houseplants to some vegetables and herbs in my backyard. I have a couple of tomato plants. I am attempting to grow garlic from an old clove that was sprouting on my kitchen counter. I am growing a lot of cilantro. I am attempting some red onions. My carrots are sprouting and hopefully my jalapeños are not too far behind.
I am incredibly thankful to have found an enjoyable hobby that fits into my schedule. You can too! Just remember to find something that is important to you and be open-minded about what it could be. You never know if you don’t try!
Leave a comment with your favorite hobby, a hobby disaster story, or a hobby you would like to try out!
--- Courtney Adams
Courtney Adams is a Masters student in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences