Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Badly

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

So much of my day is spent berating myself for not doing things better or faster. For example, the other morning as I was running in the fields by my house, I didn’t notice the sun coming up over the hills and I wasn’t paying attention to the songs of the birds. Instead, I was listening to the refrain in my head saying, “There’s a marathon coming up and two friends will be running – why aren’t you? Why can’t you run faster? Why can’t you run longer? Why can’t you…”

This experience reminded me of the saying: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. This means that we should continue to do what we love even if we’re not very good at it.

A friend of mine loves drawing with colored pencils. She draws beautiful irises, gladiolas and pansies. Chances are, she won’t have an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (where there is, right now, a terrific exhibit of the Croatian artist Sanja Iveković). Yet on weekends and during a free moment, my friend takes out her artist pad and box of pencils and does her art because that’s what she loves to do.

So often we let our fears of “not good enough” get in the way of things we’d like to try. We don’t explore or attempt new activities or things that might give us joy because we’re already comparing ourselves to others. Instead of focusing on what we like doing – like bicycling or baking – we get caught up in judging ourselves. And all too often, we give up, not because we didn’t enjoy the activity but because we didn’t feel we were good enough.

I love the story in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way about the woman who wanted to learn how to play the piano at age 65 but then began talking herself out of it. She quipped to her piano teacher, “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn how to play the piano?” He replied, “The same age you’ll be if you don’t.”

What about you? Is there something you really want to learn how to do? What is stopping you? What are you doing to push yourself toward pursuing a dream?

 
I’ll Never Be Michelle Kwan But So What?
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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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