Be Bad at Things


This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m not good at everything. In fact, I would say that I’m bad at quite a lot of things, from baking and playing piano to League of Legends. I used to get too wrapped up in my shortcomings: every burnt cookie, sour note or lost match was a personal affront to the overwhelming need for perfection that hangs heavy on my shoulders. Eventually, I came to the realization that I can’t expect excellence in every hobby I pursue—it’s not realistic, and it’s absolutely exhausting.


The first batch of cookies I ever made were completely inedible: even if you somehow braved the charred, unreasonably salty flavor, you would lose a tooth as collateral. I didn’t step foot in the kitchen for weeks after I saw how they turned out. Upon my hesitant return, I learned to find joy in the process. The end result wasn’t always favorable, but mixing and baking and decorating those unpalatable hockey pucks was fun. And with practice (and the absence of the stress derived from craving immediate perfection), I actually improved.


That being said, you don’t need to eventually get better at something in order to gain value from it. When I first started taking piano lessons, one of the only things I could play was the hook of Airplane Pt. 2. Now, almost five years later, absolutely nothing has changed. And I’m okay with that. The ubiquitous, pervasive need for self-improvement is draining; it’s running on a hamster wheel, with no end in sight. Having a space separate from this, a space where you’re allowed to be stagnant, is comforting and lets you relax.


Going into something with zero expectations makes it less foreboding to try something new. Downloading League of Legends was possibly the worst decision I ever made, given my less-than-stellar track record with video games and the reputation of its player base. But I went in knowing that I would definitely not be any good, and that removed the weight from my shoulders. Who cares if I’m bad at League? I have fun playing it… most of the time. And that’s what matters in the long run: doing things for yourself, not for the validation you get from others. 


All that being said, do the things that scare you. Move past your fears of mediocrity. Be bad at things! What’s the worst that could happen?