Verity Johnson is a writer, speaker, Weetbix addict, Leo, and part time hypochondriac.

Verity Johnson: What I'm really doing when people ask about my hobbies

My hobbies? Uhhh... Photo / iStock
My hobbies? Uhhh... Photo / iStock

I am a hipster.

I believe in kale as a solution to all health problems. (Kale! Nature's super food! Cures vitamin deficiency, ingrown hairs and your Mail Online addiction!) I click my fingers obnoxiously when someone makes a good point. I do Bikram yoga, wear black and find small potted plants breeding in your kitchen cupboard.

I've changed, man.

No, it's not true. But what is true is that I am pretending to be one. Recently I've been ordering my single origin, cold drip, long blacks and throwing chia seeds around. I make a point of drinking milkshakes in jam jars. Well, I say drinking. What I mean is that I can't drink the milkshake because it has a stack of fruit, brownies and small farmyard animals on the rim of the jar ... so I instagram it and drink the free water instead.

Why am I faking it?

My parents ask what happened ... is this a delayed spurt of teenage angst? Am I hanging out with disruptive new friends? Am I having flashbacks to suppressed memories of a nasty incident with a cro-nut when I was younger?

None of these. I just had a house interview. Let me explain.

When I was looking for my new flat, I did the things that everyone does when house-hunting. I delayed it for as long as possible, then panic-shopped at the very last minute, signing up to all the Facebook groups for flatmates wanted and sending a thousand "PLEASE LOVE ME" emails. Then I had a week of rejection, ignored emails and panicked dreams of living in Mum and Dad's sink.

So when I turned up to the house interview, I wanted to impress them. I was chatty, bubbly and tried everything to wipe any undertones of "First Date" behaviour.

Then they asked me the question. What do you do in your free time?

"Err ..."

"Or what do you do on your weekends?"


"Do you have any hobbies?"


"Do you play a sport?"

"Hahahaha. No."

Silence ...

This is the moment that everyone hates. The question, what do you do in your free time?

Why do people hate this? Well, it's because most people don't do anything in their free time. Well, we do some things, like sleep, watch television and stare at walls for long periods of time while drooling. But we don't do anything constructive, educational or creative. But when someone asks you this, you feel like you should have a good response. I do ballet. I bake scones. I create spreadsheets of the price of every electronic appliance I've ever seen and turn it into interpretive art.

You don't. Of course you don't, but you feel like you should have something to say. You should have something to prove that you do ... things. You have taste and culture. Look, you collect yoghurt pots. You definitely definitely don't spend your free time lying on your sofa trying to decide what your first act as Wonder Woman would be. You have proof you are cool.

And so I was feeling this pressure acutely, a house was in the balance, and my brain was frantically trying to think of something else I'd done recently that wasn't "read list of 101 owl memes that your mum has sent me".

"Yoga!" I cried eventually, "I do yoga."

Well, I once did a class in yoga for Bronze Duke of Edinburgh because I didn't want to do a real sport.

"Oh cool," said my potential flatmates, "How hipster." And from then onwards, I was stuck. I had to be a hipster. And, since I got the house, I'm now stuck in the situation where I have to permanently wear double denim and an artistically ugly expression. I have an illusion to keep. So now I know more about gin pop-ups than any sane individual should.

Yes, I could just come clean. But then I'd have to explain that I'd been a victim to the bizarre forces of etiquette and social validation. And that's like talking about your sweating problem - it's a little heavy for someone you've just met.

So instead, I thought I'd write a column on it. Don't be like me. Don't feel, when someone asks you, that you have to make up how interesting you are. Own your lack of hobbies, your time spent on Netflix or your fondness for lying down and dribbling. Or, if you don't want to own it, just resist the urge to make things up. It is fine not to have hobbies.

Accept that none of us are that interesting. We all just spend hours watching Game of Bros and debating whether to paint our toenails. It's cool. We're cool - lazy, but cool.

Otherwise you end up pretending to be something you're not. And wearing denim. Lots and lots of rolled-up denim.

Verity is leaving Canvas to take on a new job as the social media presenter on the Paul Henry show. She just wanted to say goodbye, and also thanks to whoever emailed in lovely things about her writing - when she rules the world, you will be given your own tropical island and 52 parrots of your choice.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Canvas

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Verity Johnson is a writer, speaker, Weetbix addict, Leo, and part time hypochondriac.

Verity Johnson is a writer, speaker, Weetbix addict, Leo, and part time hypochondriac. When she's not Googling diseases she's performing comedy, writing bad jokes and nursing a failed career as an RnB singer. You can find her at or bulk buying cereal in Pak n Save.

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