Okay, we’ve all done it: stared at a blank page, blank canvas, or a bunch of fabric that needs sewing and thought, “I can’t do this.” Or, worse, “this is stupid.” Or, worst of all, “I’m stupid.” And there are still more terrible things being said. Maybe it’s because your latest attempt at Für Elise offended even your dogs, or because the last poem you wrote was an off-brand reincarnation of “The Raven.” Or maybe it’s even because the last painting you made was a colorful disaster, leaving supportive family members to say “hey, that’s a nice… thing!”
If you take a look into any dictionary for the word “hobby,” you’ll find it described as something we do for our “relaxation,” “leisure,” or “pleasure.” But no matter what, when we fail at our hobbies we always have something negative or horrible to say to ourselves. We devalue what we do (and ourselves) when we’re not good at it and immediately believe it’s impossible to improve. What does “hobby” mean to us now? Why aren’t we having fun? Why are we so set on putting ourselves down?
There’s one word for all of those questions: progress.
As we’ve aged, society has become increasingly goal-oriented. We can’t just “do” anything anymore — we have to do it for a reason. You can’t walk without a destination, and you can’t run without trying to hit a milestone. Even video games, which used to be considered pure entertainment, are filled with people who play only to reach 100% completion — any other percentage just isn’t worthwhile. Anything less than a goal fulfilled, anything less than progress, is a waste of our precious time.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot about the journey. Everything became stress, stress, stress! We kept telling ourselves we had to be “the best” instead of letting ourselves be “okay” first. In fact, we might even hold the hidden belief that something bad will happen if we’re not at the top! I may have hit a few wrong notes — maybe all of them — but my keyboard and I are still here, making music that would annoy a rooster. It’s normal to have goals you want to reach, but we’ve forgotten to enjoy our hobbies first and somehow even forgotten that we can. We let our failures hurt us mentally. And so we hate them. So we hate ourselves.
It’s okay to go nowhere — it’s okay to be the worst. What should matter is that you love what you do, even if you’re limited, unsure, unsteady. Being good at something is insignificant if it means you sacrifice your mental well-being to get there. Love what you do, enjoy it, and have fun, because if you live without it, I doubt you’re really living much at all. Isn’t that valuable enough?