Updated: Jan 19, 2021
In my early days of shidduchim, shadchans who were getting to know me would ask if I had any hobbies. At the time, I did not. My days then consisted of:
Waking up at 9:40 for a 10:20 class (Heaven forbid I should take any first period classes in college)
Hitting snooze 4 times.
Running like a crazy person down 65th street and through Lincoln Center to get to class on time, avoid hitting rogue ballerinas
1-2 Wait in line to buy lunch
2:05 scarf down lunch
5 return to dorm
5-9 eat snacks and watch Netflix with my roommates
10-look at my homework and decide it wasn't worth it. Shortly after feel guilty about that and half-ass it.
10:10-12 read Buzzfeed and Tumblr until falling asleep
So, when Shadchans asked about my hobbies, I couldn't really share that my main hobby was watching 4 hours of Netflix a day or going through memes.
And then I graduated, got a job, quit a few jobs, got a real job and discovered that life without school looms endlessly in front of you and you need some thing to get you through. I was the girl in elementary school that would tell the teachers in March (or January) (or October) how many more minutes they had to be our teachers. School also gave me a sense of achievement-in June every year I moved to the next grade. My schedule changed. I had midterms that told me how I was doing. And in between,I lived for my next day off. Without the ability to live for Succos Break/Thanksgiving/Winter Break/Pesach/Summer I had to reconfigure my entire perspective on life. And...it's kind of boring?
Real life is going to a job every day where you do similar-ish things. In my case, I read emails, I write emails, and look at old emails. I like my job but it can feel overwhelming to know there is no summer break coming to save me. So, after I started working I started developing hobbies. Now when Shadchans ask me what I do as a hobby I have a list. Hooray for long singledom!
I'm going to go over the hobby categories below. Some of these are mine, some belong to others. If, you too, are a bored single who just realized the Jewish organizations don't give off for Chol HaMoed and you're going to be working until you die with no real break ever again, you may want to invest in trying some of these. At the very least they'll shorten the evenings. At most you may find something even better than fruitlessly looking for a mate.
We live in a content paradise, the likes of which have never been seen before. I have an app that keeps track of all the tv I watch. Other than rewatches it says I have spent four months twenty one days and eighteen hours watching tv. Meaning I can recommend you a series to watch for every day, 24 hours a day, for almost five months. And thank the LORD. Every book you ever read as a child, young adult, or just last week is now a highly detailed mini series on a prestige streaming service. Just wait until Shadchans ask you what you do in your free time and you start to detail the newest crazy show on HBO. You'll be engaged in a week.
There is watching movies and then there is watching movies. If you're bored there are 10,000 podcasts, websites, and Reddit threads going through every movie out there and suggesting other movies from other countries or smaller distribution platforms. I used to be way more into this until the site I followed shut down and since then it just feels sad. But you my dear readers were never on my esteemed film site and therefore aren't annoying like me so you can begin fresh with whatever nerdy movie content you want. Ah, to be young and naive.
A big one for city girls, you can often find deals for major theater productions that make them seem almost affordable. Here's how you do this:
Read an article about the average price of a theater ticket being over $200
Go on an app like StubHub or TodayTix and get your ticket for $80.
Marvel at how $80 feels cheap when compared with $200.
Then, when you're on a date and you see an ad for said theater production you'll have something to talk about. Your date will probably correct you on the details of the production or the price you paid despite the fact that he has never seen it. He still thinks he knows more.
I love at the end of the year when so-called "bookworms" post their list of what they read this year. "I had a busy year!" They'll say. "I read 50 books."
In 2020, I read 177 books. It was a low point for me. In 2019, I read 200 books. In 2018, I read 159. In 2017, I read 170. In 2016, I read 188.
Reading isn't a hobby it is a lifestyle. It's also a great way to subtly let a guy know that you are the smart one here. I like to drop it in on the first phone call so he knows what he's dealing with. If you're really obsessed you probably have more than one library card in different counties, subscribe to at least 3 book related newsletters, and curate your "to be read" list with strategy and unparalleled excitement. Why should I get married when I have books?
Exercise is the best because it is the worst. It is the only activity in which we all participate knowing full well we hate it. Every gym is essentially a cult and they will tell you how science has impacted their strategy of getting you the most fit/helping you drop the most pounds. They each have scientists who are like the scientists that work for cigarette companies: they will tell you anything you want to hear. It's important to buy into one of these cults though, because eventually America will be a post apocalyptic waste land and the Equinox and Soul Cycle members will have formed rival factions with the goal of taking over the shadow government and forcing us to create energy by pedaling stationary bikes. You won't want to be faction-less. Make sure you let shadchanim and boys know that you have a spot in the tomorrow-world. Way more desirable.
This is usually how men pass the time. As I mentioned in Mansplain This, America loves Football. Yet another proof: they just moved the date of the Grammys due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the Superbowl CANNOT be moved or the universe would IMPLODE. Football: the only thing not to be affected by COVID-19. (literally, the season ended right before COVID started and they made COVID magically not that bad by September FOR FOOTBALL.) Because ball is life. But girls, you're bored, and sports are the most consistent thing in our fragile world. If you are from a place like me where the main sports team is.......needing of our tehillim you can adopt a team from another location. You can also do what I do and watch all of Tom Brady's games while davening to Hashem that someone severs his spinal cord. And football isn't the only sport. If you want to see hot guys, the MLB is the place for you. There's dozens of other sports where an object needs to get somewhere. I don't follow those, but I'm sure they're great. If you want a sport that doesn't involve moving a ball to a neutral third location then you should try gymnastics. I like to tell people I love gymnastics and then they always ask if I do gymnastics. Sweetie, you're a 92 lb white guy wearing a giants sweatshirt and I'm not asking if you play quarterback. Use your brain and also stop letting society tell you that less popular sports are less valuable.
There are people out there who enjoy the camaraderie and thrill of being part of a team. Waving through the window of my psyche, I have to ask these people: are you insane? Bad enough I have to exercise near people, but to have people reliant on my exercising well enough to win them points? The pressure alone would melt me into a wicked witch sized puddle of water. But this is definitely a great option if you are looking for more structure and to make new friends and then subsequently trip and fall on top of those new friends.
These are our snowboarders and skiiers, our long distance hikers and bikers, our rock climbers and rappelers. What do they all have in common? If you're on a date with an extreme sport participant he has 4 seconds to tell you he loves to ski/snowboard/rappel etc. or his head will fall off. I don't make the rules. That's why as he opens the door for you into his car he will say something like "I lifted my foot once too when I was skiing. By the way, I ski." Bonus points if his shidduch picture is him red-cheeked and wearing a ski cap while standing at the bottom of the monster mountain he just skied down (or looked at.) I work in my long distance biking when the GPS goes on. "Oh we're twenty miles from the restaurant? I could bike that. By the way I bike." These sports are also terrific Shadchan fodder because every Shadchan has a son/nephew that extreme sports too and she wants to point out that he extreme sports better than you.
Exercising For Money
Want to make a Shadchan/Date cry in their underwear? Tell them you exercise for money. Not literally for money, you just move your body rhythmically a few times and then ask everyone you know for charity in honor of your body movements AND IT WORKS. It raises millions of dollars for charity every year because charities have discovered that asking people to make an effort (move their bodies rhythmically) means that their friends and family will be impressed and more likely to donate. And the bonus perk is that it makes you look like a person who works hard, is in shape, and cares deeply about your cause. When we all know you just want the free t-shirt.
I'm so jealous of actual artists. How incredible it must be to think something in your head and put it on the page/canvas/medium. It also gives you an excuses for everything. Artists gonna art.
Now crafts are something I can actually get behind. They make all crafts easy for any dum dum to achieve these days. And, due to living in a hellish climate where the air hurts my face, I have mastered a ton of these. Everyone I have ever met who has procreated has received a baby hat from me. I'm looking at you, QT cashier with a baby girl! I have also dabbled in embroidery, cross stitch, diamond painting, rug weaving, crochet, and scrapbooking to name a few. It helps Shadchans know what stage of shidduchim you are at as well. If you've been passing the cold winter nights by crocheting, you are going to get set up with guys who have grandchildren. It's ok, you'll make an excellent step grandmother. Just make sure you make it into the will.
If you are a guy who is into this, stop dating me, I'm not falling for it. if you are a girl who is into this, that's great. It's not my hobby but it seems like one that has a lot of history, culture, and facets in which to keep you entertained. Unfortunately, due to the racist, misogynistic, and "get anorexia or die trying" culture fashion has gotten a bad rap. It's almost worst to tell a Shadchan you're into fashion than it is to say that you're into Netflix. So you're going to have to spin it. Either put on your idealized "I'm going to change the fashion world" voice or pretend you're into the frum fashion world. Don't tell anyone you lull yourself to sleep by looking at old Alexander McQueen dresses. That's private.
This means you own 16 different eye shadow pallets that you spent more than a college tuition on and haven't opened yet. Your friends tell guys that you're an artist and the canvas is your face
You know way way way way WAY too much about something obscure like sex scandals of the presidents' children or murder cults in India. You can probably dance.
Recently, Shadchans started asking me where have I traveled which I hate because it is totally taking for granted that just because I'm a single girl I have to go on these crazy trips with friends.
But guys also I LIVE for crazy trips with friends. Or by myself #selftravel #selfpartnered. I didn't discover this part of myself until I was older and now it is all the parts of myself. I've made all my other hobbies (theater, watching gymnastics, biking) as ways to travel. Yes it sucks to be older and single but it sucks way less when you're in Cancun. And tell the Shadchans how dare they take for granted that you're a cliche? And then name all the states you've been to.
This just means you listen to a podcast intensely enough that you can quote it and also you act really earnest all the time. By the way, you're wrong, the other guys are also wrong, and I hate everyone. But guys love girls who are into this so, honestly? Fake it.
We get it, you really want to get married.
If you're bored enough (me!) and keep your eyes and ears open (also me) and just find ways to be part of everything (definitely me) you can really use this time as a single to learn absolutely everything about everyone and then give everyone else status updates on how those people are doing. I have a friend's husband who gets nervous when I come over because he knows I'm silently judging and reporting everything. I think all of us oldests have an issue with this because we miss tattle-taling and this helps us get our fix. And there is NOTHING in the world like telling a Shadchan who asks what your hobbies are that your main hobby is Loshon Hara. Pure Joy.