Yesterday my dad told me something that I think maybe more people need to hear.
You’re allowed to just do things for fun.
He told me that in this modern society, especially the United States, we seem to have this attitude that we shouldn’t do something unless we’re aiming to be the best at it. If we can’t sing like Beyonce or Frank Sinatra or something there’s no point to singing. If we can’t make the next big breakthrough there’s no point in looking into mechanics and engineering.
But, he tells me, it took him a long time to figure out that life doesn’t have to be a race. If you want to take up the piano when you’re a teenager or later you’re not going to master it. You’re not going to be able to play to huge concert halls, but that also shouldn’t stop you. You can study a language out of curiosity and then drop the ball if you want. You can just get okay at something or even be terrible at it. You can drop it for days or years and then pick it up again and it doesn’t have to be a shameful thing.
I’m really glad he told me that because today I opened my sketchpad for the first time in months and just started drawing. And it looks terrible. But I don’t care. I don’t have the talent or patience or spacial awareness to get anywhere near good at drawing, but it’s fun. It helps me focus my mind and nobody has to see it.
And because of what he told me, I’m thinking maybe someday soon I will take up the bass guitar. And I won’t worry about how well I do, or how fast I learn, or that I haven’t played an instrument since sixth grade, or that I don’t have that much time to practice. I’m just gonna enjoy the experience. Maybe I’ll try swing dancing again and take a class because I’m not the best dancer but damn if it isn’t fun.
Yeah, you don’t have to be good at things. It’s not a requirement. Maybe that seems obvious but it had never occurred to me before. You’re allowed to just enjoy what you’re doing. For me, that feels like a life changing revelation. I don’t have to be good at something to like it. I don’t have to put 100% effort into everything I do. It’s kind of amazing.