For me, recovery without a hobby is like going to the beach without swim trunks. Sure, it’s possible, but what’s the fun in that?
Days of recovery can be chock full of meetings, service work, commitments, sponsorship and more meetings.
While all of that is great, to break up some of the tedious chatter, I gravitated towards activities that brought me joy before any type of addiction. Activities that brought pure happiness and peace of mind—shifting the perspective of recovery to something not so deeply based around a 12-step program.
For me, this was art. I’ve been doing photography and graphic design for 4 years. Being able to come home from a meeting, throw in some earbuds, pop on a music playlist and indulge in hours of creativity without interruption has been the saving grace to my recovery. I could have all the time and support that I want but until I can find happiness in doing something I enjoy by myself, I would never be happy with myself by myself.
Having a hobby that I participate in regularly has given me a sizeable distraction from chronic stress, provided a sense of freedom and most importantly it gives me something to look forward to.
Beyond the clear health benefits, a hobby gives me a sense of identity. An identity unlike anyone else. Even my best friends in recovery all have different hobbies they’re passionate about. Activities such as baseball, golf and aquascaping (the craft of arranging aquatic plants). Although we have many things we enjoy doing together, having different things we are passionate about makes each of our recovery paths unique and stronger.
Finding a hobby took a lot of trial and error but whatever genuinely makes you happy is time well spent. Something so important takes time and patience to find. Sometimes the most challenging things are the most rewarding. Finding a hobby that I enjoy has proven to be the most rewarding thing I have done.
In early recovery I did not think I could find genuine happiness that I felt years ago. Many years were spent around my addiction while my hobbies and passions were pushed to the side for temporary fulfillment. I had a lot of anxiety trying new things around a lot of new people. I wanted to hide and isolate a lot in early recovery. Isolating gave me plenty of time with myself and my thoughts, something that gave me even more anxiety. I felt stuck.
I looked into some old pictures I had taken well before my addiction. They were great and even better than what I was doing during my time using. It was almost like someone else was taking the pictures. I didn’t understand how this could be me and what happened. I wanted to make even better work but didn’t know how to start.
I started working slow and steady. Making art with the most basic tools and processes. I had to start all over again. This made me appreciate the work that I put in and actually learn the ins and outs of the artistic process.
Before I knew it, I was putting together art that I was actually proud of. I was amazed at how just in a few months of hard work I was able to push past the ceiling that I once thought was there. Shortly after what I considered to be my second chance at art, my artistic endeavors were recognized by a local gallery in downtown Ann Arbor. I was given the opportunity to showcase my work in their gallery at the beginning of the year. I was amazed. What shocked me even more was that my younger cousin who lives in San Francisco, CA, called me to ask me if he could do a school presentation on my work. Of course! His classmates all had famous artists and well known photographers but my cousin wanted to present my work! I was super happy and humbled.
My effort in recovery and the passion behind my hobby allowed me to reach a new height in my life. My perceptions of what I thought to be successful or the “ceiling” of life, were changed and strengthened by this process. I didn’t get my life back. I was given a better one.
My future work and endeavors are all thanks to my family, my overwhelming support in the community and ultimately my new self in recovery.