The symptoms of burnout sometimes mimic the symptoms of depression, my therapist says every so often when I express a growing lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, and difficulty focusing. She mentioned it the first time in the weeks after I left my last job where I had managed to do the terrible thing of attaching my sense of self to my role as a host and writer there.
I knew I was burnt out when I left, but ironically, leaving made it worse. Suddenly I felt I had nothing, like I was nothing. I threw myself into what effectively became secondary employment: reminding people I existed through Instagram stories, feed posts, and TikTok videos.
I pretended I wasn’t miserable for a year before I finally took a baby step back. I listened to Michaela Coel’s Emmy’s acceptance speech on repeat, thinking about what it means to be successful in an industry that moves on so quickly. “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves,” she began, “visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear—from it, from us—for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”
Going dark didn’t feel like an option, but I did do some aggressive culling of both patterns and people in my life that made my heart drop and my shoulders curl. Crises of identity are so often fought in silence. I made a point to treasure shared experiences with people in my life. And I found hobbies—worlds I could escape into that didn’t necessarily feed back into the machine of online branding.
The theme of this week’s starter pack is “hobby people,” inspired by Aliza Abarbanel’s essay about separating your identity from your work. Tell us about your hobbies in the comments!
all my love, mi-anne
Mushroom Block Grow Kit. Welcome to bog era! Growing oyster mushrooms in your kitchen is Walden Pond for the apartment-bound.
Wool and the Gang Knitting Sets. Writer Aliza Abarbanel dedicated an entire post of her own newsletter to knitting, aptly titled “Let’s Stitch and Bitch.” It has all the instructions needed to wiggle your way into the “knitting-is-my-brand” subset of folks. If you buy a kit and then give up, you can still be a thotty knitwear hoe this summer with brands like A. Roege Hove, The Series, Yan Yan Knits, and the smattering of options on Etsy.
“Self-Righteous About SPF”: When shaming people into wearing SPF every day IS your hobby. Mi-Anne particularly likes the pink one from Glow Recipe (it’s grippy like a primer), this one from Supergoop (glowy!), and this one from Everyday Humans (the best body sunscreen ever made).
Should I start a zine?. Alt. “Should I start a newsletter?”
D&D Beyond Player's Handbook. “There’s nothing quite as soothing as pretending to be a mystical being for a few hours,” says art director Logan Tsugita. “Whether you’re looking to join or start a D&D campaign, or you’re simply a lore-loving nerd like me, the Player’s Handbook is the answer.”
Pretty af origami paper. “Maybe not a thousand paper cranes, but a cootie catcher or a frog or two and you're back in the paper folding business—a simpler time,” says social media editor Amalie MacGowan
Crusty Sourdough Starter. The crusty mason jar of sourdough starter your friend gave you at the start of the pandemic that you swear you’re going to use one day even though it is 100% dead. (See also: How to revive starter.)
Merrell Hydro Mocs. Bog era, but make it Fashion. Good for: pottery class, knitting on a park bench, and cosplaying as that sexy lobster fisherman on TikTok, says MacGowan
Etsy. The capitalist urge to monetize your hobby, a.k.a. the hobby to hustle pipeline.
i stole my boyfriends hobby and started bouldering lol. i’m not very good but it gets me out of the house!