Being good at things is not the point of doing them
Do things because you enjoy them, not only because you're good at them.
This November, I’m challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the “Shorts” category, where each post should be around 500–1k words. Think of them as “less polished” than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 19.
Being good at things is not the point of doing them. You don’t have to be good at something to do them. We've somehow come to the conclusion that in order to enjoy or to do something, we must be good at it. But as children, did we believe we had to be good at playing dirt to play dirt? How did we get to this distorted point of view?
Toxic productivity plays a part, in that we tend to associate our self worth with our productivity and achievements. If we're bad at it even though we enjoy it, what’s the point of doing it? It’s unproductive, and we could be doing something more productive. What good are we to society if we can’t perform well? Is this for your own benefit, or for the benefit of others? I believe most of us have toxic productivity to some extent, and that it's not something that can be reversed overnight. We've come a long way to learn that we need to make every second count, so unlearning it may take almost a lifetime. However, being aware of it is a good place to start. Remember: Hobbies do not always have to be productive or monetised. Social media also plays a role. We enjoy doing a thing. We see friends, influencers, and everyone else doing the thing better. We compare ourselves to them. We feel guilty because we aren't doing better or enough. We feel that what we do is insignificant compared to them because we're bad at it. We stop because what’s the point if we can’t do it well?
I like writing, I think. Or at least reflecting on my experiences and the learning that comes from them. But my writing isn't great, compared to many people I know, and the people I know may think their writing isn't great compared to the people they admire. Maybe you think YOUR writing isn't as good as mine. It’s a vicious, never-ending cycle. That’s why I stopped writing stories in high school even though I enjoyed it. I compared myself too much.
We must recognise that everyone starts from somewhere. But that isn’t the point; the point is that we can still enjoy things even if we aren’t good at them. If we do want to get better at something, the only thing that separates, in my case, better writers from me is that they show up. They write, even though no one reads their work or people criticise their work. They consistently show up to write in any case because they enjoy it. Then they gradually improve, accumulatively over time and become better writers. What if I hadn't stopped writing when I was in high school? I would have probably become a better writer than I am today. It’s better to start now than never anyway, and it’s never too late to start anything. I may not have written this well or as I intended to be and you may be cringing as I type this, but… I tried. And I still wrote it anyway. I want others to read it and maybe write a better take on this. I could also document for my future self so that I can look back and see how far I’ve come. But getting back to the point, even if you don’t intend to become good at something, that’s completely fine. The main point is that you don’t have to be good at something to do it. You definitely don’t need anyone’s permission to enjoy yourself. If you keep doing it, you might still be bad at it, but at least you're having fun. Or you could get better at it eventually! In the time, you're still having a good time. You do it because you enjoy it, not only because you're good at it. So, try to have a good time!
We need to talk about toxic productivity
It's okay to fail