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You Should Do Things You Aren’t Good At

Read the title once again, slower this time, and really take it in. Then take a seat, and let me show you what I really mean when I say that you should absolutely do the things you aren’t good at.

I’m not saying that you should get a degree in Applied Mathematics or start a career as a corporate auditor if you doubt your numerical capabilities. I’m not saying that you should stubbornly hold on to those piano lessons if all the joy is gone and the only things pushing you forward are spite and the sunk cost fallacy.

What I am saying is, do you remember that dance class you took a couple of years ago, where you found yourself tripping over your own feet and flailing your limbs around? Or styled a wig for a cosplay that ended up looking ridiculous and gaudy? Or any other situation where you knew perfectly well how terrible you were doing, but enjoyed yourself, smiled, and laughed nonetheless?

In a time when questions like “Will it bring me to success?” or “How will it help for my future?” preludes all our actions, you have to remember that you deserve to have one or two hobbies that  stemmed from our desire for indulgence. There is an expectation that a degree of proficiency and mastery must be the final result of the actions that you are currently undertaking, that ‘something more’ must arise from every activity you partake in. 

Unless of course you are resigned to the “Oh, I’m just doing this for the giggles” pile, which can very quickly lead you out of the door. However, is being a member of this pile always a bad thing? Is it fundamentally wrong to participate in an activity that you can enjoy unconditionally without inherent pressure or expectation of success? 

In short, why not start viewing some activities as mere experiences, that you can value, learn from, and hold on as memories through time?

As college workload piles up, it is easy to entrench yourself in your campus and limit your company to only people from your own faculty, and eventually forget the fact that there is a sea of interesting people with diverse character. Although it is normal that the friends we love most and care deeply for come from our closest environment, at times, some of the most invigorating and enlightening relationships that we may have is with the people we never expect to be friends with. And one of the best ways to make those unexpected friends, is by partaking in unexpected things.

For me, one of those unexpected things was joining a dance crew back in high school. I was tall, had horrible posture, and had a bad habit of looking at the dancers in front of me - when what I really should’ve been doing, was watching and correcting my own form. None of the kids in my usual friend group at the time were in there with me. 

In that vast dance studio, the closest thing I had to friendships were acquaintances. There were these two girls in my class I never really talked to, and a handful of underclassmen and upperclassmen I only vaguely knew from other clubs I was in. And who could’ve known that I would now consider them to have been my best friends, and feel so honored to have met them. Even a year later, having left the crew, these are the people on my mind whenever I find myself wanting to get back into dance. 

I value skill. I value effort. I value excellence. However, I also value happiness for the sake of happiness itself. I believe that in the pursuit of strengthening our skills for the betterment of our studies and careers, there is still time to take part in activities that aren't monetarily or pragmatically 'worth' much. So knit your lopsided wool hats and paint your terrible landscapes, just because you’d love to.  

Nesa Liora

Waseda '24

Mechanical Engineering student by day, overly ambitious writer by night. I make dubiously formatted Youtube videos about science and am always looking for an excuse to talk about space.
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