Real hobbies... I want them!
August 22, 2012 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I want to gain new hobbies that will help me make friends. Problem - I don't really like sports, games, nature, crafty things, or creative things. What else am I not thinking of?!

There are a lot of questions on AskMeFi about getting friends, and usually one of the most common answers is through hobbies. Here's the problem - I don't really like a lot of things! Sure, I love reading and watching movies (who doesn't?), but I don't consider myself a particular expert, and they're not really group activities (I've thought about book clubs, but have trouble finding ones in my area).

Here are some potential answers I've considered and sort of rejected:

I really dislike most sports (don't talk to me about running!), and am vaguely indifferent towards a lot of board games/video games. (oh, how I identified with this article!)

The only time I like being outside is if it's perfect weather and the place has highly, highly concentrated natural beauty. Otherwise, I'm just not a big fan! I am not moved by nor interested in fuzzy animals (except cats, to which I'm tragically allergic) or other kinds of flora/fauna.

Although I love reading, I don't write myself. And I've thought about taking up some kind of crafty hobby, but again, don't have a lot of intrinsic interest, and second, dislike the idea of accumulating a lot of "stuff" or knickknacks... I live in a pretty small apartment!

Noooope. I was involved with atheist/humanist stuff in college, but I'm not nearly the ardent proselytizer I once was. I still really, really dislike anything with even a whiff of spirituality.

One thing I do enjoy and am good at is cooking, and there are certainly local dining clubs (though meetup, for e.g.) which I could join - but that gets expensive pretty quickly. I'm also trying to be a healthier and more restrictive eater, so coming up with creative/amazing/cool stuff to cook is not the best tactic, either. A volunteering hobby I really enjoyed (but had to quit due to geography/time) was reading/recording books for blind people, but that wasn't really a great way to meet people either.

I tried to anticipate a lot of the suggestions people might have, but please let me know if there's stuff I'm not thinking of! My unofficial hobby is finding cool links on the Internet and sending them to people, but I would really like to meet new people in person. I'm also in the Boston area, if anybody knows local stuff.

Note: I have seen this question but am moreso looking for specific suggestions for me.
posted by leedly to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (44 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Could you volunteer somewhere? Maybe at a library? It's not exactly the most social place in the world, but there will at least be other volunteers to meet.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:17 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you like animals? What about volunteering with an animal rescue group?
posted by scody at 1:18 PM on August 22, 2012

How about a reading group?

Cooking classes do get expensive, but what about forming some sort of a healthy pot-luck group?
posted by shothotbot at 1:19 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Although I love reading...

Book club? There's a bunch listed here for example.
posted by exogenous at 1:19 PM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you like building things but don't want to accumulate stuff, what about something like Habitat for Humanity? Or how about community theater? You could act, or most groups are consistently short of backstage people (because everyone wants to be an actor) so you can join up just to build sets or paint or whatever.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:20 PM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Local politics? My town has a couple of advisory committees that are regularly looking for members. I served on the Technology Advisory Committee for 3 years before resigning, but in that process met a lot of cool people, and "I serve on the..." is a great opener.
posted by straw at 1:20 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about something like yoga?

Your library might have book clubs - mine does - or you could start one yourself on craigslist. A couple friends of mine did that. We wrote up a questionnaire and were extremely choosy about accepting members based on the answers, and it turned out great. We have been going strong for 6+ years now and I have made great friends that way.
posted by something something at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you like comedy? The biggest recent change in my social circle has been from joining a drop-in Improv workshop. I've met a lot of new friends and through them I've attended a lot of community theater shows they are involved in.

The particular workshop I attend (in suburban Boston) is no-pressure, so if you don't feel like joining in you just sit there and watch. If you're comfortable with whatever game is going on you jump up. Some games require creativity, but not all of them.

Also, what about trivia? There is a regular Metafilter meetup in Cambridge for pub trivia. I've only attended a couple of times (see the part about me being in the 'burbs) but it's a fun night out with some smart, funny, and surprisingly fresh-smelling people! I think attending metafilter meetups has been the second biggest recent change in my social circle.
posted by bondcliff at 1:26 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where, in general terms, are you? Also, what kinds of friends do you want to make?

As source groups, consider people you have met through work, family, or IRL gatherings.

I'd think about getting engaged in book clubs or groups that exchange dining evenings at each other's homes, or a book club in which whoever is hosting is the chef.
posted by bearwife at 1:28 PM on August 22, 2012

Pub trivia!!!
posted by jabes at 1:28 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Theatre @ First is a fun group of people who put on shows and are always looking for folks to help on and off stage.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:28 PM on August 22, 2012

Vegetarian meetup? You don't have to be a vegetarian to eat vegetarian.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2012

Music? If you can learn an instrument, you could play in a group; if you can sing, even better.

Humanitarian volunteering - soup kitchen, etc, can be a great way to meet some new people. Not always people your age or type, but you will definitely meet the other volunteers.

I was once part of a cooking club that met at different people's houses every month, we all brought ingredients and cooked together. We found each other through Craigslist.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:30 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bar games, like pool or darts, are sports-y, but don't involve running. It's not terribly hard to get moderately good at pool: all you need is a decent amount of practice. It's fun, though, and random passers-by will think you are a shark. Getting _really_ good is a lifelong challenge, though!

On preview, seconding pub trivia (perhaps at a pub that has darts or a table as well).
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 1:30 PM on August 22, 2012

1. As mentioned, don't really like animals, sadly allergic to cats.

2. Thanks for the meetup book club link - somehow missed this one!

3. I'm in Boston, specifically JP. So Cambridge suggestions okay but less likely to result in actual attendance.
posted by leedly at 1:31 PM on August 22, 2012

As well as book clubs, there are movie clubs, even book & movie clubs( where people get together and discuss culture. Maybe see if you can find something local in your area?

What about community theater?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:31 PM on August 22, 2012

Do you sing? Consider joining one of the two barbershop colossi.
posted by jquinby at 1:33 PM on August 22, 2012

Dance? Salsa is so fun!
posted by Specklet at 1:34 PM on August 22, 2012

How geeky do you want this to be?

Meetups/user groups focused on particular programming languages are fairly common and welcoming to beginners. Boston seems to have the world's largest Python User Group.

Anime/manga cons or viewing groups probably exist in your area too.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:34 PM on August 22, 2012

Improv classes!
posted by Kololo at 1:38 PM on August 22, 2012

Why not take cooking classes?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:38 PM on August 22, 2012

Boston has a huge social dance community, with a lot of free open dance nights. It's great fun once you stop being self-conscious, and the people are very friendly. You don't have to already know how to do it.
posted by ostro at 1:41 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've made a bunch of friends in language classes.
posted by clearlydemon at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2012

Is going to a climbing gym too much like a sport?
posted by aimedwander at 1:48 PM on August 22, 2012

"(I've thought about book clubs, but have trouble finding ones in my area)."

Start one! About your favorite kind of book.

"And I've thought about taking up some kind of crafty hobby, but again, don't have a lot of intrinsic interest, and second, dislike the idea of accumulating a lot of "stuff" or knickknacks... I live in a pretty small apartment!"

Consider something like learning to crochet, and you can make granny squares for afghans or preemie infant hats, and donate them to the NICU or a shelter or similar. You can crochet with just one hook and one ball of yarn, if you wish. I have learned to confine my crafting habits to things that are usable in the house (quilts, curtains), things that can be donated or given as gifts (baby things), or things that are small and take forever and worth framing when done (very elaborate embroideries). But there are definitely classes to learn granny squares or baby beanies, knitting or crochet, and there are similarly groups who will make granny squares in a crochet social and put them all together in afghans to donate. Something like that might suit you, if you can find a craft you tolerate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:49 PM on August 22, 2012

Become a docent at a museum or historic property. You get to learn and interact with other volunteers, staff and the visitors.

Start a cooking meet-up. I belong to one where we cook from a different cookbook each month and have a potluck with our chosen recipes . It's a great way to try out a new book or cuisine and learn from each other. We meet in private homes, but it could be easily done in a community room too. Variations abound - have a challenge theme, make it a large batch cooking trade off or a canning/preserving swap.

On the cooking theme I once had a friend who had a monthly soup salon. She provided two big batches of soup and a beverage. Everyone brought a dish. A discussion theme was preselected and a delicious meal and energetic conversation was had by all.

Geocaching gets you out and about with a scavenger hunt sort of focus. You can interact with people on line or in person.

How about historic reenactment? You can get as involved as you like in this area. You can specialize in one area of a period or have broad interests, belong to groups and travel to events. There are some very knowledgeable people in these groups!
posted by cat_link at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, the Boston Ukulele Union meets in both Boston and Harvard (the town, not the school) every couple of weeks. Great people and lots of fun.

Basic ukuleles are cheap, easy to learn (enough to have fun with, anyway) and if you're just following along to a chord chart don't require any creativity.
posted by bondcliff at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:07 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I volunteer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I don't think it's necessarily for you, many of the opportunities are outside (although there are plenty of indoor activities if it Does interest you).

But I agree with the above about greatly enjoying the teaching/outreach aspects of the volunteering, and you could get that volunteering at many places around town. Generally acting as a docent or interpreter, you're interacting with people who Want to know more, and thus interact with you.

One of my favorite JP-local groups is Spontaneous Celebrations, which does the annual pond latern walk. You could be crafty and not take things home! They have volunteer opportunities.
posted by ldthomps at 2:10 PM on August 22, 2012

I've made a bunch of friends in language classes.

This, if there's a foreign culture or country you're interested in. Start with a class at the local adult school, and when you've exhausted their beginning level classes, move up to your local community college.
posted by Rash at 2:22 PM on August 22, 2012

Volunteer tutoring? (I like 826; there's one in Boston.)
See if you can write for Serious Eats?
posted by mlle valentine at 2:45 PM on August 22, 2012

Do you know any foreign language already? Around here, people meet weekly at libraries, bookstores, etc., to practice. (Bonus: it's free!)
posted by DoubleLune at 3:10 PM on August 22, 2012

Do you like listening to music or watching movies? There are usually tons of events in just about every town surrounding those two pastimes. Or you could join a book group and discuss things you read.
posted by limeonaire at 3:27 PM on August 22, 2012

Oh, also: You don't like sports, but do you like exercise or working out at all? That's definitely something you could do in the company of other people.
posted by limeonaire at 3:30 PM on August 22, 2012

I met friends in Boston through Boston Cares (volunteer group), Yelp community, work and bars. I also don't have any real hobbies.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:23 PM on August 22, 2012

Folk dancing? Boston happens to have one of the best contra dance scenes in the whole world, and it is a BLAST. (You may have a dorky stereotype of what folk dancing is like, especially if you got forced to do it in middle school gym class. I strongly suggest suspending disbelief and showing up at one of these at least to watch for a bit, because it's good shit, vigorous and stompy and spinny and enthusiastic and pretty damn beginner-friendly and the people are nice and oh man I wish I were up there dancing right now.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:19 PM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Arboretum (one of the best parts about living in JP -- I still miss it) has regular interesting-looking classes.
posted by gentian at 5:46 PM on August 22, 2012

Seconding (nthing?) language courses. Also, where I used to live there was a local art theater that showed a lot of awesome but not very mainstream movies, and you'd start to see the same people in the theater on the same nights of the week. Many of them were alone, because they were all very sensitive, deep, beautiful souls (nerds). It was easy to strike up a conversation about the series the theater was were running, or whatever. If you're interested in movies you might want to look for something like this! (YMMV, film people can be weird people, and sometimes ~artsy~ environments attract people who are mostly experts at going on long, unhinged rants during Q&A sessions.)

Oh, and a recent post about how to become a "regular" at a bar or cafe made me realize that doing such a thing really is a hobby in itself. Most people don't think of purely social activity as a hobby, but if you're at all butterflyish (or barflyish) it might be worth your time. It can be expensive or not, depending on whether you choose a place where you can read or work or what.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:09 AM on August 23, 2012

Aw man, actually yeah, contradancing groups are superfun. I thought I would not like it at all, but the people are really sweet and as an activity it's some combination of silly and nice. I instantly made friends my first time there. (And my contradance enthusiast friend is from Boston and agrees that they have a great scene.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:11 AM on August 23, 2012

Yep, language classes. You all start out at the same level so there's nothing to be embarrassed about, and at the end of it, even if you don't end up making any friends, you will at least be coming out with a new language! I've made some friends, including one very close friend, from language classes so I would recommend them.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:02 AM on August 23, 2012

Also, the Sunday Night Film Clum is meeting at the Boston Common theater this Sunday to see Premium Rush. That's a pretty easy orange line trip, and they've been doing the Film Club for years. I've never been, but it seems like a fun way to see more movies.
posted by ldthomps at 6:59 AM on August 23, 2012


Seriously it's a very social, easier-than-it-looks, and incredibly fun activity, and the people involved in it tend to be very welcoming and fun. Plus the "fooooom" sound the fire makes as it whips past your face is awesome.

I'm not in the Boston area but know for a fact there is an active fire community there -- look for "spin jams" (which are typically weekly meetups for spinners.)
posted by ook at 9:34 AM on August 23, 2012

Also: a couple of people have mentioned volunteering at museums and cultural organizations, and that's a great idea. Just remember it's not just about Art - the Museum of Science and the Aquarium are two great non-artsy places you can volunteer. I used to work and volunteer at the science museum and I found it was a nice place to meet people who were secular but not all up in your face about it. You work with pretty much the same group of volunteers every week. Depending on where you volunteer you may be able to do some crafts too, and let adoring museum

Also, I took a class at Diablo Glass School in Mission Hill. Downside: it is pretty expensive. And you do generate "stuff" that you either have to bring home or give away. But it was SO MUCH FUN. And the people were pretty cool, both the instructors and the other people in the class.
posted by mskyle at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2012

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