I have a talented friend who crafts with clay, and a few weeks ago she brought out her materials and showed me how she made things. Taking a few small pieces of clay, I spent several minutes crafting an animal that was supposed to be an owl, but came out resembling a dejected penguin that would have been cut from the cast of Pingu. (Don’t know who Pingu is? Get off my lawn!)
I knew my creation was terrible, but I didn’t care that his ear broke off, or that he looked more like a melting gummy bear than a bird; I created him and had fun doing it.
It got me to thinking that I need to do this kind of thing more often. In fact, I think having a hobby you suck at is essential to achieving work-life balance and maintaining your mental health.
If you have a hobby you enjoy but lack any skill, I’ve found four empowering reasons why you should keep on sucking at it!:
You Enjoy Your Achievements More
After trying and failing so many times, when you finally get something right, the elation that follows is worth the struggle.
Another hobby of mine is knitting, and let me tell you, I sucked at that for a long, long time. I remember I wasted a whole skein of yarn trying to knit just one sock without a hole in it. When I finally finished a sock that actually resembled a garment that could don a human foot, it was a great feeling.
I never did knit the matching sock, but that’s beside the point. It was the journey and the overcoming of the challenge that mattered.
You’re Defying the Fallacy of Perfectionism
Especially if you have a lot of high-pressure responsibilities in your life, allowing yourself to be imperfect from time to time is really important to your mental health. The quest for perfectionism is an illusion that can cause a lot of mental distress. Allowing yourself to suck at something is a way to acknowledge to yourself that it’s perfectly okay to be imperfect.
When there’s no pressure to succeed, you can take a lighthearted approach to your hobby and give yourself permission to laugh at yourself when you fail. When I knit my first stuffed elephant, he ended up with a decidedly inappropriate bum crack due to my shoddy seaming job. Visualize that for a minute and tell me it isn’t funny.
Life is serious enough as it is, and giving yourself an opportunity to laugh is perhaps one of the most important reasons you could have for doing something you suck at.
Bonus points if you’re with a friend and they laugh along with you. 🙂
You Allow Yourself to Live in the Moment
For me, this is what it’s really all about. So many of us get caught up in the day to day hustle and end up totally preoccupied by our responsibilities and worried about the future. Days, weeks, even months can slip by without us ever slowing down to savour things. Because your hobby’s only purpose is to bring you joy, you can fully focus on the fun you’re having without giving any thought to the outcome or consequences.
Let the hobby you suck at be your conduit to reflection and gratitude.