Aug 16, 2022 - Health

Axios Finish Line: What do you do for fun?

Illustration of a bucket filled with an airplane, a guitar, and a smiley-face ball.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We all want to succeed in our pursuits, but we can grow and learn a great deal when we do things we're bad at — just for the joy of it.

The big picture: The last two years gave many of us time to experiment. 59% of Americans say they picked up a new hobby during the pandemic, The Atlantic reports.

So we asked the readers of Axios Finish Line (sign up here) what new things they've been trying — and what they've learned. We can all take lessons from their experiences.

1. It's never too late.

  • "I'm 60 years old, and three years ago I started piano lessons. My 9-year-old son started at the same time I did, and he is so much better than I am. I love how learning a musical instrument is both mentally and physically challenging." —Michael F., Phoenix, Arizona
  • "I took up tap dancing in my 50s and have stuck with it for seven years. I'm not great at it and am the oldest person in the classes, but it is fun!" —Emily E., Winterville, Georgia
  • "In my 70s, and I just bought a violin. Have never played one. Goal: To accompany a soloist singing 'Ava Maria' in church." —Germaine P., Tustin, California
  • "I have been learning to speak Korean for one year now. It's not easy; I have to work very hard to immerse myself in all aspects of the language and culture, but it's fun. So many people wonder why I'd start learning a language at the age of 54. I'm not dead yet!" —Susan W., Denver, Colorado

2. Find joy in sports.

  • "My husband is an excellent ultimate frisbee player. He convinced me to try it out, and I got hooked. The practice of continuing to work at something I was terrible at was Zen-like, humbling, and a great antidote to my perfectionist tendencies. I'm just okay at frisbee, but I am a much better human." —Kate H., Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
  • "I have never been a good swimmer in my 43 years of life. I joined an adult swim class at my community pool. I am far and away the worst swimmer in the class, and there are men and women in their 70s in my class.  The first 15 minutes repeatedly punish my ego, but after the full hour I feel so accomplished for doing something so hard." —Doug B., Bethesda, Maryland

3. Find joy in art.

  • "I just picked up guitar lessons. I was taking my kids to all their activities and realized I didn’t have any hobbies of my own anymore. I’m enjoying the challenge of learning something new and the concentration it requires, forcing me to clear my head and just focus on what I'm playing." —Kelby T., Austin, Texas
  • "I started woodworking in 2015. I have zero DIY skills. But my wife wanted a cabin bed for our son and asked me to build it. Golf was a hobby I once had, but $65 and 5 hours away from home was becoming hard with 3 kids. 7 years later and countless projects, it's a lot of fun!" —Chad G., Columbus, Ohio

4. Escape from work.

  • "[I've been a] Wall Street guy for over 35 years, throughout almost all of which I've also been a volunteer firefighter. In no other part of my life do I enjoy the rich and stimulating cultural, age, gender, political, religious and economic diversity we have in our fire department, where those backgrounds come together in a selfless unity of purpose: helping others in their times of greatest need. I love it." —Alex G., Armonk, New York
  • "I have embraced learning how to repair and refurbish a motorcycle, in large part because it is so very different from what I do with most of my day. My work as a higher education administrator has many rewards, but the gratification of fixing something with my hands and seeing nearly immediate results — for better or worse — are not among them." —Jordan Y., Lawrence, Kansas
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