New Hobbies in Your 30s

When was the last time you took up a new hobby?

When people ask me what my ‘hobbies’ are – which is rare and mainly occurs on job interviews or awkward first dates – I usually have to pause and think. Does drinking wine and watching TV shows on Netflix count? Probably not. How about hanging out with friends? Nah, cause hobbies seem to imply having a skill. Does writing count? I would say no, because it’s not so much a ‘hobby’ as it is my primary career goal. So, I guess I don’t really have a ton of hobbies aside from reading. But I may have a new one…

Today my co-workers and I went to the craft store, Michael’s to pick up Halloween decorations for the office. We walked past the aisles of yarn and I was seduced by the colorful wool and cotton piles. I stopped and ran my hands over a container of thick teal colored yarn, and I knew I had to learn. I love chunky knits and I felt like this could make the perfect scarf or small cuddling blanket. Luckily, one of my co-workers is an experienced knitter so she promised to show me the basics.

When we got back to the office, she showed how to do a basic stitch, but it was hard! So it might be a little bit until I get the hang of this and can make something that vaguely resembles something. Guess that’s why it’s a hobby. It takes time to develop a skill.

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Adventures in Stand-Up Comedy

I’ve always wanted to try stand-up comedy. I just never thought about it seriously. It was at the back of my consciousness for years, but I took no solid steps to get there. It seemed like something only super talented comedy geniuses did. It definitely did not seem like something I could do.

But as I get into my 30s, I’m starting to see very clearly, why NOT me? In lots of different contexts. But specifically in this case, why can’t I be one of those up and coming comedians? Because I know I’m going to see more and more female comics breaking through in the next five years, and maybe some of them will have started when I did.

And why can’t one of them be me? How often do we talk ourselves out of doing things because we don’t think we’ll succeed at them? Or for just a host of other reasons (‘I don’t have time,’ ‘Sounds fun but what’s the point?’).

So, after my breakup last summer, I felt emotionally raw and a little more courageous. I started asking a few friends who had taken stand-up classes about their experiences. I gathered teachers names and more information, but still, couldn’t bring myself to actually sign up.

But a few months ago, I finally signed up for a class. I’m not sure what exactly the tipping point was, but I knew I had amassed enough bits and pieces of ideas to possibly form a stand-up set (they are normally about 7-10 minutes).

The class started in early July and I have my stand-up debut on Sunday.

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What have you always wanted to try but put off? Perhaps taking a writing class, learning a new language, taking an improv class. Ask yourself why you put it off? And why can’t you try whatever ‘it’ is now?

Trying Something Crazy and Unexpected in Your 30s

What are your hobbies? For awhile, whenever I was asked that question (not often, admittedly), my answers would be very internal activities like reading, writing, watching movies. I realized that my hobbies are mostly ways to retreat from the world – not engage in it. There’s nothing wrong with having internal hobbies, but lately I’ve wanted hobbies that connected me to other people and the world at large.

So, after hearing from friends for years that improv is a fun way to meet people and help with my writing, I signed up for a improv 101 class at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) here in Los Angeles. I’m five classes in, and I love it so far. Since you have to come up with comedic bits and scenes on the fly, you have no choice but to be completely present and living in the moment. In a way, it’s like meditation. What’s cool about it is that you constantly surprise yourself. I love that about improv.

Since I’m a comedy screenwriter primarily, the class has helped me become more free in my own writing. The exercises we did last week were especially helpful – they were the “monologues” part of the course. We basically do 1-2 minute comedic monologues on a subject that is suggested to us by the audience. I found that I was really good at the monologues and could make people laugh. I left the class feeling somewhat elated.

More than that, the class is making me curious about adding a new component to my writing career…stand-up comedy. Is the idea of me doing stand-up comedy crazy? Maybe. Maybe not. The thing is, people don’t immediately meet me and think I’m “funny.” They’d say I’m “down to earth” and “genuine.” And I know that I’m perceived as shy – especially when I meet people in groups. In fact, my UCLA classmate and friend who I’m taking the improv class with told me after class that he was really surprised how funny I was, because he always thought of me as “shy” and “quiet.” Kind of a back-handed compliment, but hearing that kind of thing always motivates me, to essentially “show them wrong.”

So that’s that. I’m going to try stand-up comedy in the next few moments. I’ve already started writing a few jokes down. I’ll start checking out some shows and then maybe try doing an open mic.

If you had asked me in my 20s if I’d ever do stand-up comedy, I’d have said no way. I’d have told you it was way too scary and miles and miles out of my comfort zone. But now, in my 30s, I feel more fearless than ever.

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