Looking for social hobbies/activities
December 17, 2018 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Pretty much all of my current hobbies are a) seriously boring and b) individual activities. I'm interested in finding some hobbies (or activities, in general) that are more social in nature. Preferences inside (although, there aren't that many).

I'm in grad school and most of my socialization for the past few years has been through school and/or work. I'm looking to expand my "social circle," so to speak. Not even to make new friends, per se, but it would be nice to meet some new people! (Upon reflection, I sound like a REALLY boring person yikes).

Also, most of my current "hobbies" (if you can call them that) are kind of boring/individual things. I've recently got into cooking and (I guess) I could be described as a cinephile. Those are pretty much my main two hobbies (when I'm not at work and/or dealing with classes/assignments). I'm starting to find myself bored as hell after work/school, I don't feel as sustained by these hobbies as I once was! My upcoming (and final) semester is lighter than my previous semesters, so I'll also have more time on my hands. I don't want to spend that time being bored out of my mind.

I'm planning on joining a gym next year (ahh yes, the cliche of joining a gym in January, I want to take advantage of my student discount during my last semester!!), I'm not the most fit person. Because of this I am a bit hesitant to do a social physical activity (one of my roommates does curling/slow pitch through a local sports social league), until I get to a level of fitness I am comfortable with.

I kind of lean towards arty things (film, music, books, etc.) but I'm not particularly arty or crafty. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and want to be "good" at things, which makes art difficult. My parents gave me an expensive DSLR several years ago and I have yet to use it, so I thought a Photography club might be fun. Although, I'm not sure how truly social a photography club would be.

Ideally, the hobby/activity would also have a low(er) cost of entry, but I am open to suggestions.

A few activities I'm curious about are improv and (oddly) drum circles (I ended up participating in one through work and it was much more fun than I was expecting). I know there are tons of activities, but I just can't think of anything! What else exists?!
posted by VirginiaPlain to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Meetup.com can give you an idea of what's local in your area--and there might even be a photography club you can tag along with--but my first thought was what about finding a book club? There's no real "thing" to be good at, except maybe speaking your opinion in front of other people, but it could help with the perfectionist need that might come with something like an art class (pottery, photography, etc).

And if you like the outdoors at all, there's often groups of people that do day hikes; a lot of these don't even need any special equipment aside from comfortable shoes and a packed lunch.
posted by lesser weasel at 8:41 PM on December 17, 2018

I would recommend joining a local Mah Jongg group. There are at most 4 players at a time so it's easy to fit in and while it is challenging with a learning curve, it can be mastered fairly easily.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 8:46 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you have a local public library? My library is always running programs and offering classes. A lot of the time the class is free or relatively low cost.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 8:48 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe search for photowalks or "photo walk" near you not just clubs. I've gone on a few near me and they have been very social but not too social. Depends upon the organizer a bit, but we would all meet up somewhere, spend a couple hours walking around in clumps and a theme to photograph, swapping looks at each others shots, then stop somewhere for food drinks. Everyone who wanted to posted shots online and we had positive only comments. It was fun and I did learn a bit about photography. People were generally kind to the less experienced and since we were walking a lot it tended to discourage the types who have 25kg of gear. Still in touch with a few people years later on sns.
posted by Gotanda at 8:53 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

A book club?
posted by Grandysaur at 8:54 PM on December 17, 2018

How musical are you? Joining a choir ought to be fairly accessible, and would give you something to do (practice) in between the regular (more social) rehearsals. I'm a pianist who was intimidated by choirs, until I realized that my voice was buried in the group, and that singing with others can be a lot of fun.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:10 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

If there is a women's circus near you, they tend to be pretty beginner-friendly.
posted by divabat at 9:22 PM on December 17, 2018

Since you like books... how about giving them away? Check out BookCrossing, it might be for you. It's social because of the forums, and there might well be meetings where you are; also you can combine it with walks.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2018

I find classes are good for stuff like this. Take an improv class. The whole point of improv is actually to be super supportive to the people you're working with. Also, it turns out there are "rules" to being funny. Being funny (or funnier) is something you can actually learn, and is a fairly useful skill in almost any future social situation.
posted by xammerboy at 11:55 PM on December 17, 2018

I'm an indie RPG game designer and run tabletop games (story RPGs/card games/board games) and play them regularly with other folks. It hit a lot of my needs to be nerdy, to let loose, to have fun, with some similarities to improv, but also to find mechanics super interesting. So tabletop gaming is where its at, to be honest. Lots of super diverse styles, ranging from cute and wholesome to queer and feminine horror to apocalypse to heist, etc. LARPing has some overlap with improv, but I also mostly play indie LARPs and not the costume re-enactments (which are super cool but not really my speed, Western fantasy is not my favorite genre.)

There are a few different ways to do this. You could ask around your social circles and see if anyone would want to have you as a player! Also, as an offer, we could DM and I could chat about potentially running a game or getting connected with others online! And there also are possibly types of games that you would be interested in.

As a note: You're probably familiar with hearing about Dungeons and Dragons, but for me personally, I don't actually like Dungeons and Dragons very much and think it's really constraining and inaccessible for a first-time player, and it's mostly dependent on how nice and flexible your Game Master/Manager is for hacking and breaking the rules. Still, it was my first game and my friends were awesome in running it and made it a very accessible and fun experience, so I got super hooked. Folks are generally very nice.
posted by yueliang at 1:49 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Are there actual phys ed classes (not just an open gym) that you can take through your university? A class means both that you are more likely to attend and that you will see the same people regularly, and in my experience those classes are just fine for people who are out of shape. In grad school I did an aqua aerobics class and a weight lifting class and I am a total uncoordinated wuss.

Knitting groups are usually a pretty easy way to have ready-made socializing without too much expense. One good thing for perfectionists is that knitting can be undone very easily until you get something the way you like it. Most groups are super welcoming of beginners and aren’t expecting great art to come off the needles, but “what are you making” is a great conversational starting point.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:42 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not all physical activities require you to start out fit, and those are way more fun than exercising in a gym. I'm a fat fencer, and lots of martial arts classes are OK with you starting wherever you are (people in martial arts can probably suggest specific types). Also, if classes are available in your area, belly dance is super fun and accepting of all ages and body types (you don't specify your gender, but one of the best belly dancers I ever saw was a man - though if you're male, you'll probably be the only man in your class).
posted by FencingGal at 4:33 AM on December 18, 2018

If you're interested in taking photos of birds or other wildlife, consider finding a local birding group. There are lots of casual local Facebook birding groups that have scheduled walks, and local park systems often have walks as well. Beginners are always welcome, and photographers usually are as well. I'd say a good 20% of the people on our local birding walks are more interested in photography than birding with binoculars. It's also a great way to get out and get moving.
posted by mollweide at 4:53 AM on December 18, 2018

Seconding martial arts!! I’ve been doing Tae Kwon Do for about six months with my partner (who is also in grad school) and we really love it. We were very unfit and while it’s a little tough to get in the swing of things, they do start you out at a manageable level, so it isn’t all that overwhelming.

My only note would be to scope out the place first, and they almost always have a certain number of trial classes you can take before you sign up. I did Krav Maga at a different place a year ago and it was a big and flashy location but the people were all a bit cold. Our TKD place is extremely friendly. We don’t really hang out with anyone from there outside of the classes for a variety of reasons but it has a very strong familial vibe. The forward progression, learning new patterns and belt testing, keeps it interesting, and we’re both in way better shape now.
posted by caitcadieux at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2018

I also came to recommend RPGs or board games. RPGs are good because if you are stuck for what to talk about, the subject matter is provided for you by your friendly DM. As yueliang suggested avoid a rules lawyery group, you just want some fun people having fun adventures. D&D is a good foundation game to start with if only because it has the largest player base and open to the public Adventure League games that anyone is more than welcome to join. They are working to be super inclusive which as I am a woman was a plus for me starting out. Check out the D&D website for a handy dandy location guide. If it takes your fancy there is a world of RPGs out there to have fun trying out with all sorts of people, conventions of various sizes to go to & online games as well as numerous online videos to watch of other people playing when you're not playing.
posted by wwax at 7:21 AM on December 18, 2018

Cooking can be a social activity! If you already know people from school/work that you’d like to get to know better, you can invite them over to cook/bake with you. Over the years I’ve done things like:
- Bake cookies with a friend (because why not?)
- Make rice krispy treats with a friend for a 3rd friend who really loves them
- Make dinner with one other person for 2-6 mutual friends
- Bake sugar cookies and make icing and invite a bunch of people over to decorate them
- Host a “toast party” where I buy a couple of types of bread and have friends bring potluck toast toppings (jams, avocados, butter + sprinkles, poached eggs, cream cheese, bacon, berries... really anything can go on toast)
posted by asphericalcow at 8:51 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

One more note about gaming -- many local game shops have weekly tabletop nights, and the good ones include both "serious" games and party games. You might want to do some checking for that specifically, as it can be a great social outlet.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:43 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Curling doesn't require you to be fit. It's a very friendly game, and there are mixed teams of men and women. The winning team buys the losing team a round of drinks, so it's very social and a great way to meet people. Try it.
posted by Enid Lareg at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2018

If there is a film festival or art crawl in your area, you could see about joining the planning group.

Political parties' geographic organizing units are an easy place to meet like-minded people and your time together always has a purpose so it's not awkward.
posted by lakeroon at 7:32 PM on December 18, 2018

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