Skip to content ↓
allison avatar

In which I “get a life” again by Allison E. '27

reclaiming my childhood hobbies

Over this past summer, I spent a lot of time filling out all of those “get to know you” forms for roommates and advisors and whatever other MIT things were coming up. It was so exciting—MIT things!! They were already beginning!! We were going to college!! I obsessed over my answers to every question, as if I’d never snapped out of the trance of college apps, and one of the most common ones I noticed was “what are your hobbies?”

But there was a problem with this question. I didn’t have any hobbies.

That was kind of sad to think about for a while. Really, Allison? You have no hobbies?? As hard as I tried to think, I couldn’t come up with anything. Sewing? Not consistent enough. Running? Not something I did for fun. Watching YouTube? That’s… that doesn’t count, right?

Of course, there were plenty of things I did in high school that brought me joy, fulfillment, and a sense of identity. Despite what the title of this post implies, hobbies01 especially in the narrow, and definitely incorrect sense that my subconscious subscribes to are DEFINITELY NOT NECESSARY for being an Interesting Person™. But they’re definitely fun, and they’re definitely a great way to connect with other people (hence the frequency in get-to-know-you questionnaires), so I was still a little disappointed that I didn’t have anything to share.

In elementary school, I was really into arts & crafts—particularly those little novelty kits you could find at Michaels or Joann’s. I made friendship bracelets, string art, shrinky dinks, window stickers, clay charms, and even mini stuffed fruit plushies. Then, when I was in fourth grade, my best friend and I learned how to knit. It was a \ funny hobby for two fourth graders to have, since knitting is usually something you imagine your grandma doing as she sits by the fire on a cold winter’s night. But we started! And then we would not stop. At the beginning of sleepovers we’d build a blanket fort, and then we’d spend the next four hours just sitting inside them and knitting (while watching DanTDM videos, of course). I brought my yarn and needles with me everywhere—in the car on grocery trips, to friends’ houses, and even on a plane??02 I guess TSA doesn’t mind 9-inch wooden spears??

When my family moved just before I started middle school, I brought a massive bag of all the yarn I owned along with us. And then I proceeded to not touch it for seven years. I thought about picking knitting back up again, but believed I’d never have the time to actually finish a project—it just seemed too time-intensive. There were always “better” things to do (or YouTube videos to watch), so by the time I got to MIT, I hadn’t picked up my needles for a loooong time.

One day, though, I was in the Admission Office waiting for my first-year seminar to start, when I noticed that yarn and knitting needles were scattered throughout a little lounge area off to the side. I walked over to take a closer look. There was a little placard on the wallnoting that this lounge was in honor of an admissions officer named Gisel, who loved to knit. And because I definitely had no psets at all to do, I picked up a pair of needles and a ball of yarn that was identical to the yarn I used to use, and knitted a completely useless square. Two weeks and one Michaels purchase later, I had a couple balls of yarn, some needles, and a rekindled obsession.

Because holy cow, I forgot how fun knitting is. It’s so incredibly satisfying to watch your project grow from a few loops of yarn to an actual wearable item, and I really enjoy understanding how all the different stitches work together to create a pattern—it’s like a puzzle! Over the last couple months, I’ve knit ¼ of a poorly thought out cardigan, a massive scarf that sheds red fuzz on everything it touchs, ⅓ of a weird hood thing, an entire throw blanket, and a very oversized cowl. It’s extra exciting because I’m finally back in a place where I need scarves and hats, and now I can make them myself!

My dad thinks it’s odd that I’m rediscovering hobbies in college, which is notoriously more busy than ever, but knitting has actually been a pretty sustainable hobby time-wise. It’s actually quite easy to multi-task—I can knit while watching Open CourseWare biology videos, or while talking with friends at 3 am. It doesn’t really require major brain engagement, and for simple patterns I can even look up most of the time. Ultimate productivity unlocked !!!!

I do want to avoid tying my feelings of self-worth to my economic productivity, and I think I’ve actually gotten better at it in the last few months. I’m not all the way there yet—it’s discouraging sometimes to see how much the people around me are getting done, how many clubs they’re a part of, or how well they’re able to maintain good sleep schedules. But multitasking with knitting has actually been a great way to trick my brain into feeling less bad about doing fun things just for myself. I can enjoy my YouTube videos and talk for hours with my friends without beating myself up about “getting things done” because, in fact, I am getting things done! I’m making gifts for my family or scarves for winter, while also producing joy for myself.

I’m very happy to report that college has not squeezed the life out of my life (at least… it hasn’t so far?), and in fact, it’s actually added some much needed life back in.

There’s only one issue—one that’s re-emerged from the depths of my elementary school room and crawled its way into my dorm. It’s the yarn monster. It is growing. It is consuming the space in my drawers and the money in my wallet. It is coming for me at an alarming pace. Please send help.

  1. especially in the narrow, and definitely incorrect sense that my subconscious subscribes to back to text
  2. I guess TSA doesn’t mind 9-inch wooden spears?? back to text