Control Freaks Are Having a Moment

During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s okay to obsess over hobbies. Okay? Okay?!

Maya Kosoff
Published in
4 min readMar 20, 2020


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When I first understood the severity of coronavirus, I did what I always do when I’m stressed out: I started cooking. A lot.

Of soup.

I made so many soups: Lentil kielbasa. Chicken and rice soup. Chicken tortilla. Chicken and lentil. They filled up my freezer until there was no more room, at which point I started eating soup for every meal and hoarding it in my fridge. I gave my sister quarts and quarts of frozen soup. I even set up a Twitch account with plans to livestream my soup-making as entertainment while we’re all stuck inside. It’s the end of the world, but the soups? The soups will still be there, fueling me as I try to barter my futile skills as a blogger for a hand axe and two sweet potatoes.

I’ve always been a home cook, but certainly not to this degree. Until recently, I didn’t really know what was driving me to do all this cooking. But several soups deep, I realized: I was doing it to have some semblance of control over a situation that very much seemed to be spiraling out of control.

It turns out, control freaks like me are made for crippling global pandemics. My soup-making is how I try to wrest control back from a very uncontrollable world. And there’s (almost) nothing wrong with it.

It’s okay to assert control through activities

After my realization, I queried my Twitter followers about what they were doing to find control amid chaos. A sampling:

“I’m finally polishing all my silver and it feels so good.”

“I’m mostly knitting and crocheting things for my family; I made slippers for my husband and a sweater for my oldest.”

“I cleaned my boyfriend’s oven.”

I got hundreds of responses from people who wanted to share their longtime or newfound coping mechanisms with me.

Vaile Wright, the director of clinical research and quality at the American Psychological Association, says all these ways of exerting control — my soup production included — represent humans’ collective intolerance of uncertainty and the unknown…



Maya Kosoff
Writer for

i’m a freelance writer and editor. you can also read me in places like the new york times and vanity fair.