Today’s “Google Of The Day” (as in, something I search on Google without thinking) was “things to do with free time.”
It’s really sad that I found myself Googling that, and even more sad that it was a common search.
I’m not sure exactly when it happens, but at some point in our lives, we forget what we like to do for fun. When we suddenly have a couple hours or even a day or two to ourselves, we swim around in circles like a goldfish that’s been in a bowl and suddenly released into the ocean (which would be problematic, I realized, considering goldfish are freshwater fish).
This is such a first-world problem. I know. But come on, people. Since when did we forget how to relax and do things we like doing, just because we like doing them? You can probably walk up to 99% of the students on my college campus and ask them what they do in their free time for fun, and they’ll say “Um, (insert Facebook/Netflix/drugs/booze-related activity).” Not hiking. Not reading. Not music or art or cooking or traveling. For God’s sake, I would even consider glassblowing or metal detecting or lock picking a hobby, as long as you legitimately enjoy doing it in your free time for no reason other than enjoying it. But no, these days it counts as a hobby to binge-watch like a zombie because you don’t know what else to do.
I’m guilty of being a zombie. I like watching Orange is the New Black and Mad Men as much as the next person, or going to the bars three nights in a row because my friends and I can’t think of how else to hang out.
So I did research on figuring out what to do with my free time. One article on Entrepreneur suggested going back to what you did in your childhood. I made a list:
- listening to my dad’s Led Zeppelin CDs on repeat
- sewing outfits for my stuffed animals (and charging people money for their very own stuffed animal couture)
- directing and producing backyard musicals for the neighborhood parents (and charging them money for watching their kids perform choreographed numbers from everything in Wicked to Swan Lake)
- publishing a mini magazine using notepads and pens from hotels (and charging money, or ice cream, for my friends to read them. This was in elementary school, by the way).
- building entire villages from Lego bricks, wooden blocks, and Lincoln Logs, then using an old video camera that still used tapes to make action movies using the villages as sets (and then charging my parents to watch the movies)
It’s clear that my passion was doing creative things, and then making money off people at the same time. I was cold. From a young age.
Another article on Forbes recommended thinking about what you’re naturally curious about.
A classic example is Steve Jobs’ curiosity for typefaces which led him to attend a seemingly useless class on typography and to develop his design sensibility. Later, this sensibility became an essential part of Apple computers and Apple’s core differentiator in the marketplace.
Finally I found an article that suggested asking yourself the question, When you feel your best, what are you doing?
And there I found my answer. Creating. This would explain a lot, I guess, considering that I write this blog. Or that I love choreographing for my sorority dance team, designing random graphics on Illustrator, painting beer bottles on a cooler for a fraternity formal, or even knitting (grandma-like, I’ll admit, but you have no idea how therapeutic it is on the many plane flights I have to take). I like taking on creative projects and tackling them, be it a painted canvas for my sorority little or a copywriting assignment for my internship.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch an episode of Mad Men and pretend I didn’t just write a whole post complaining about people who just use their free time to watch Netflix.