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When it comes to occupying my time, I tend to (involuntarily) become a productive procrastinator. In other words, one of my worst habits is pushing off essential tasks, such as homework or chores, so I can do something that makes me feel equally productive. It’s definitely something that I’m working on, especially since procrastination can have a negative impact on mental health and well-being for students.

In any case, I’m usually left with a dozen half-finished projects, boxes of craft supplies and materials, and long, long to-do lists. My latest round of productive procrastination has given me a list of all the new hobbies I’ve tried this year along with my thoughts on which ones are actually worth doing.

5. Sewing my own clothes

sewing machine with pink measuring tape and blue fabric
Original photo by Johanna Sien

This one had me starry-eyed for about three days. I saw a sewing machine for a great deal on Facebook Marketplace and I couldn’t resist the temptation of becoming one of those TikTok creators on #SewTok who make incredible thrift flips.

Oh my god, I thought. I could totally make a dress out of an ugly old plaid blazer, and once I learn how to sew, I’ll never have to buy new clothes again! Perfectly custom-tailored jeans, here I come!

Much easier said than done. Turns out, the sewing machine was such a great deal because it didn’t work like it was supposed to, and my desperate binge-watching of YouTube tutorials didn’t help at all and really just made me feel frustrated and dejected. Even worse, the quote I got from a sewing machine repair specialist (who are really hard to come by!) told me that the cost to repair it would be four times the amount I paid for it. And so, all those old curtains and bedsheets I had thrifted and planned to transform into a Met-Gala-worthy ensemble ended up being re-donated.

The thought and motivation was there for sure, but this hobby ranks last because I never really had the chance to try it! 

4. Nail art

I’ve always been a big believer that you can really do anything you set your mind to. This belief was challenged when I tried doing nail art for the first time. I got some fake acrylic nails and glue, bought some pretty pastel colours, and even got one of those little wooden sticks you use to push back your cuticles. I was all set.

What I didn’t prepare for was how sticky nail glue actually is, and how panicky it feels to try to use nail polish remover to get your pinky unstuck from your desk. I also didn’t consider how awful I am at art in general; I’ve never been very skilled at painting on 2-D paper, much less a 3-D, tiny surface on my shaking, wobbly hand.

Trying out cool nail art designs ended up being me going through several bottles of nail polish remover and thus making my bedroom air extremely flammable, and all I had to show for it was something resembling poorly-made abstract art. I did get better at painting my nails overall, though, even if I struggled with painting little flowers on my thumbs.

3. Magazine Collaging

This was a fun one! Strategically cutting out fashion spreads, letters of the alphabet, and 2014 pictures of One Direction from my old stack of Seventeen Magazine then pasting them into my journal was immensely satisfying and really tapped into a level of creativity that I wasn’t aware I had. It also tapped into a side of me that liked writing messages using magazine letters to create cryptic messages, like a cheesy criminal leaving behind a ransom note. It was a great way of repurposing and recycling, too!

The only reason why this hobby doesn’t rank higher is that it can get messy. Definitely not failed-nail-art messy, but having odd scraps of paper and glue sticks on my desk all the time got old pretty quick. However, I still recommend this hobby to anyone looking to add a little bit of spice to your crafts!

2. Embroidery 

Loved this hobby! It was fun, easy to learn, and super cute. Not only did I embroider cool patterns on wooden hoops, but I quickly embroidered face masks, jeans, socks, and even my old pair of Vans, which brought them to a new level of style! Even better, thread and hoops are cheap and embroidery skills are very basic, so this hobby is pretty accessible to try out.

This hobby can be a bit time-consuming, so I definitely suggest doing it while you’re doing something else, like watching Netflix, listening to a podcast, or commuting on the train. Overall, a really awesome hobby to have!

1. Sending Snail Mail

By far, this was the most fun hobby I tried out. I honestly didn’t expect that sticking a stamp onto the corner of an envelope and dropping it into the mailbox would be as incredibly gratifying as it is. Everything about it is fun: picking out the perfect stationary, writing a short and sweet message to a friend, adding stickers and magazine collages, and even the anticipation of waiting for your recipient to receive it! It really makes you think about how cool the postal system actually is – I still can’t believe my little envelope could travel all the way across the world and make it in one piece!

Having hobbies can be a healthy way of being productive and having something to look forward to, especially when you might be feeling overwhelmed with school or work. Hobbies that you do solely for your enjoyment can be a great way of maintaining good mental wellbeing while learning something new.

Have a hobby you think I should try out? Let me know, because I’ve got an essay due soon.

Rianna Lim

Carleton '23

Rianna Lim is a journalism and political science double major at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a Her Campus National Writer and the 2021-22 Senior Editor for Her Campus at Carleton (and loving it!). She is a passionate reader, London fog lover, and baseball fan. Be sure to send her your book recommendations and follow her on Instagram @riannaway!
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