I recently published a post about how I am messing around with pottery — even though I’m terrible at it.
The reason I’m doing this isn’t because I hope to get better — or that I even think that I will — but because I enjoy doing it.
In fact, I really would be shocked if I get much better at it. But that’s not the point.
In that piece, I talk about how amazed I am that it feels rebellious to spend a lot of time and energy doing something I’m frankly terrible at and can’t put to much productive purpose.
It was interesting. In response to that piece, I got a ton of comments from readers assuring me that if I keep doing it, I will get better at it. To keep trying and I will improve.
And as I read all of those comments, I laughed. It would seem that I’m not the only person out there who has trouble accepting that you can do something simply because you like doing it — with no expectation of ever getting good at it. The comments reflected that. Indeed, even as I said I didn’t care if I ever got better at it, I heard from lots of folks who felt it was their duty to assure me that I would.
These comments reassured me — although not how the writers intended, I think. They showed me that other people had internalized the same strange expectation — that you should do something because you were either good at it now or you hoped to be good at it eventually.
And that was reassuring to me, that I’m not the only one who had come to believe something that’s so awfully strange when examined explicitly. You see, sometimes I get to thinking that I’m the only one who struggles with strangely unhelpful beliefs, but it’s not the case. None of us exist in a vacuum, and we’re often dealing with a lot of the same issues — even as we worry that we are the only one who has those problems, that it’s something limited to us and us alone.
Anyway, the response I received to that piece let me know that there’s a reason that embracing something I’m bad at — without hoping to ever get better at it — feels like such a rebellious act.