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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

During reflection surrounding the new year, I realized that I have not kept up with many of my hobbies from high school and my first year of college. As I start my first co-op and find myself with more time on the weekends and in the evenings, which would have been spent on homework in previous semesters, I feel ready to take on a new activity.

After setting my mind to learn something new, I started to brainstorm some feasible and solo hobbies. I thought about crocheting, tried it a little and soon realized it was not for me. Then, I remembered how my brother plays chess online by himself against a robot competitor or with friends. Personally, I never learned how to play chess. Why? I honestly do not know.

It seems to be a relatively fun, competitive and strategic game that you can always keep improving at. Additionally, most of those around me learned it at a young age, and starting now can be a way for me to bond with my friends and family. All that is to say that I am now challenging myself to learn chess and start playing somewhat regularly as a new hobby.

My first step was to commit to setting aside time to learn the rules. To keep myself accountable, I set a goal time frame. However, to keep the calm and fun aspect of this journey, I am trying not to set too many harsh deadlines. If I do not complete the deadline, I will be discouraged from continuing. I want to make sure that this is something that is enjoyable and relaxing.

I read some instruction articles, watched several YouTube tutorials and downloaded some apps on my phone to play. The New York Times article, “How to Play Chess” was a helpful guide to begin with. I am a visual learner, so watching the tutorials and going through the learning modules on chess apps were the most helpful. Chess.com, for example, has an app with lessons, puzzles and user statistics to track progress. I started by completing the “Guide” lessons, which took about a week.

Currently, I am ready to take the next step of playing a solo game on the app. There are several different levels depending on experience. Then, once I feel comfortable, I will challenge myself to play with a friend or family member. This transition will likely be the most uncomfortable due to my lack of confidence in my chess abilities. My first chess game might be a fast defeat, but I know I will improve in time. 

Starting new hobbies is a journey of learning, discomfort and growth. When I first realized I had not kept up with some of my old hobbies, I had to remind myself that it was okay for my interests to evolve. What sparked my curiosity at 15 might not interest me now, which is okay!

College feels like a time of exponentially fast self-growth and discovery. I have found it super easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I am not busy enough or that others around me are doing way more than I am. The comparison is overwhelming at times. Luckily, hobbies can serve as a way to invest in ourselves and take a break from the endless tasks in our lives. 

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Anika Mayar

Northeastern '26

Anika is a second year at Northeastern studying Public Health and Data Science! She loves traveling, trying new foods, and tennis. She is an avid coffee drinker and you'll often find her listening to Taylor Swift.