The Importance of Having a Hobby in College

By Maryam Masood October 8, 2019

I recently started taking a hip-hop class. The decision was made on a whim about two weeks into the semester when I was sitting with a friend in the S. State St. Starbucks, half-studying, half-complaining about how I didn’t have any free time anymore.

Like any other quintessential overachiever at Michigan, I keep busy. Between 16 credits, roughly a 10-hour work week, student org shenanigans, and occasional blogging, I probably fall somewhere in the middle on a spectrum between the cruising and overloaded student.

So why, then, did I feel the need to take a beginner’s hip-hop class, when I was complaining about how I didn’t have time to do the things I was supposed to be doing?

Call it an existential crisis, but that day in Starbucks, a thought I had been going back to for years resurfaced in my mind: if someone asked me what my hobbies were, what would I say? Surprisingly, I realized there was not “one thing” I made time for consistently that I couldn’t put on a resume (not to say certain hobbies can’t be put on a resume). And I refused to accept watching “Netflix” as my only consistent pastime.

So, I signed up for a weekly dance class at the Dance Theatre Studio on N. University (but if you’re interested in dance, you can also enroll in a 1 credit Intro to Dance class for free next semester).

Three classes later and my dance skills are still mediocre at best, but I can feel the class’ impact. In high school, I had sports to stay active and destress. Dance provides me with an outlet to grow physically and mentally that I felt I had been missing my freshmen year.

Having one hour a week to work toward a goal that has no connection to my academic or social life has helped me feel more grounded and less anxious, even during a particularly stressful week. Slowly, I’m starting to feel like less of an education sponge that goes from class to class and more of an individual living a U-M Ann Arbor experience.

I could probably go on forever about why having a hobby is life-changing and restorative, but I know for most people, it isn’t a question of wanting to have one, but a question of time. In fact, sometimes I still feel like I barely have enough hours in the day just to go through the motions of being a student and grapple with getting out of the mindset that hobbies aren’t deserving of my time.

If that sounds like you too, then try asking yourself this: are you really the one deciding what things are and aren’t worth your time, or do these feelings emerge from external influences? If your answer is the latter, it’s probably time that you reconsider how you’re spending your time and start pursuing your “one thing.”

I’m not trying to convince you that you should take a dance class. But we would all be better off if we dedicated an hour every day, every other day, or even once a week to doing something that gives back to us rather than the other way around.


Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood (she/her) is a senior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts majoring in Organizational Studies. During the year, she keeps busy managing the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program and working as a trainer at Rec Sports. Outside of class and work, she can most likely be found making another cup of coffee, procrastinating at the CCRB, or rewatching Kim's Convenience on Netflix.