Offline Hobbies for Online People
“What do you do?”
It’s a typical conversation starter in New York. A lot of people are lucky to enjoy what they do. But ‘UX Designer’ or ‘Developer’ doesn’t encompass everything you do.
When you’re at college, you are working on your major, as well as minoring in partying and procrastination. It’s common to see people limiting their hobbies to ones that align with their future careers. You’ve got to hustle to get internships, to build up a resume, and it’s easy to feel like your never going to get there. Once you enter the workplace, you’re continuing to hustle. You’re going to events. You’re consuming online content like it’s your job. You may move to a new city, and then you need to find a new apartment, new friends, a new life.
There is so much that you already have to do. It can feel like putting effort into doing something that should be fun is too damn much.
Last year I had a significant amount of time off because of visa restraints due to moving to the US. When I left my job in the UK, the team teased me about how I was going to cope with this forced downtime. My life centered around my career. No one could believe that I could go a few hours without checking my emails or answering a phone call.
I flourished in this time off. I found fulfillment from embroidery and reading. They also gave me a creative outlet alongside the rigmarole of moving across the globe. Since joining the Oak team, I’ve continued to invest time into these hobbies and fit them around my work. And as a result, I’m happier than before.
Hobbies give you the chance to switch off, relieve stress and maybe even go outside. I’m not talking about hiking the Appalachian Trail - but if that’s your jam, great. At Oak, we’re more likely to be eating Clif Bars at our standing desks than as our only food source for four days.
Both embroidery and reading involve sitting on the sofa a lot, but it turns out that some of the Oak team are more badass in their spare time.
Aiden builds motorcycles
My Dad always had a motorcycle, so they were always around. My Mom’s feeling on motorcycles might be something like resigned acceptance. Although, recently she’s been talking about getting her license.
I got my first (and current) motorcycle when I was 20. I moved out and scraped up enough money to buy a bike from a sketchy guy on craigslist.
For a while, I was into building impractical, but fun fixed gear bicycles, so it was a logical next step. The increased complexity opened up a lot of routes mechanically and stylistically. Within a few months of getting my license, I was grinding off my bike’s subframe, rewiring my lights, and getting in over my head.
I’m less into motorcycles for the ‘bad boy’ image. I enjoy the mechanical and creative side of things. I spend a disproportionate amount of time tuning, modifying, and maintaining my bike.
Motorcycles are a terrible black hole into which I throw money. Ideally, I’d like a dirtbike, and a dual-sport, and a nice vintage bike, and a little city bike. I’m currently hunting for a dirtbike (If anyone has a post ‘96 DR650, let me know).
Joseph flies planes
I’ve always dived into the technical aspects of the things I find interesting. So my initial interest in airplanes evolved into a passion for flying shortly after. I would go to airshows with my father, and we’d sit together in the cockpits, or pretend to be in the market for an airplane.
After you get certified as a private pilot, it is essential to fly as often as possible. It’s a skill that requires high performance and attention every time. There’s a wealth of licenses one can get too. The next ones up for me are the instrument, commercial, and seaplane ratings! I try to go flying about once a week; despite being intense, flying is incredibly relaxing. Also, the views from the sky are gorgeous.
I recently took my first Boeing 787 flight to Denmark in February — a trip on my favorite plane to my favorite country! I’d love to fly myself to Montreal for a weekend, which would be my first international aviation adventure. I’d also like to fly over the Basque country of Spain or hop along the Lofoten Island chain in Norway in a small Cessna.
A few countries have outdated airline fleets, meaning I could fly a Boeing 707 or Airbus A300, albeit potentially structurally unsound one. Whereas in the rest of the world there are very few still operating. This would be great for me, but not so great for my Mom, who doesn’t quite comprehend the risk versus reward scenario I envision.
What may have started as a hobby can become much more than that. That’s how lots of Developers ended up where they are, but a more rounded life is a happier one.
Making money and learning shit is important too, but once the clock hits five or the grades are in, there’s more to life than continuous grinding — and, though it’s sometimes easier said than done, it’s important to understand that.
Next time someone asks me what I do, I’m going to answer: “I’m a Community Manager at Oak, also I like to read and embroider.”
Granted, they might look at me like I’m odd. But who knows, they might have a fantastic book recommendation. Or tell me about their sourdough starter. Either way, I’m all ears.