Maryam Mohseni, ‘24
"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in useful life," said the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. What better way to fill those “spare moments” than hobbies? For the sake of this article, all extracurricular activities, including school/out-of-school sports, clubs, and drama, as well as more individual activities, such as reading, writing, and baking, are considered hobbies. In other words, a hobby is anything done outside of school that doesn’t earn you money. Hobbies give teenagers a chance to meet new people, discover new passions, develop skills outside of school, and have fun.
Research shows adolescents without hobbies are more likely to participate in high-risk behaviors. When researchers chose a large number of peer-reviewed journal publications and pool the data, research shows that teens who don’t spend any time at all doing extracurricular activities are:
Additionally, hobbies help with the social-emotional development of teenagers. The most important processes that take place during the teenage years are identity formation and differentiation. Identity formation is the process of becoming an individual with personal wants, needs, skills, and preferences. Differentiation is the formation of an identity outside and apart from parents and family. Hobbies are a great way for teens to create and discover passions other than the ones introduced to them by their family and forge their own path away from the watchful eye of their parents and teachers, but still in a safe environment. Sports coaches and band directors, for example, are neither teachers nor parents and so they are in a unique position to help teens learn and grow in new and different ways while also teaching them new skills.
Last year was my first at NCS. For the first few months of the school year, school was online. Because I was new, I didn’t know anyone.Due to virtual school, there was no in-person clubs fair, however, in its place, a virtual clubs fair was held. One of the clubs I decided to join was Debate Club. Over the course of weekly Zoom meetings, and eventually in-person meetings, I developed close relationships with my fellow debaters. Not only did I have the opportunity to become friends with other freshmen, I also forged bonds with upperclassmen. Debate Club members made me feel welcome in a new environment and gave invaluable advice on how to be successful at NCS. Of course, I was also able to improve my public speaking skills, gain more confidence, and better my research skills. Although debate tournaments were initially scary, they got easier over time. I now look forward to tournaments and the accompanying rush of energy as I face off with my opponent. Picking up debate was one of the best choices I’ve made since coming to NCS, and it’s now become one of my favorite hobbies.
Perhaps the best thing about hobbies is that there are so many of them. They can be anything from inconsequential pursuits to templates for achievements and success. They can teach valuable life lessons and enrich the physical and emotional development of teenagers. Everyone could benefit from a hobby. If you don’t have one, start looking. They aren’t hard to find.