On Not Being Good at Things

I’ve been thinking about being good at things.

You look at talented people. Artists, musicians, singers, dancers, actors, authors. People who are really good at design, or carpentry, or sewing. And you think, damn I wish I could do that.

The thing is, all those talented people started out untalented. No one just wakes up one day and knows how to play the piano, or paint a realistic portrait. People develop their skills over time, and with practice. When I first started sewing years ago, the garments I was making were barely fit to be worn out of the house. These days, I have a wedding dress under my belt and another scheduled. I’ve made costumes for plays. I’ve made and altered clothing for friends, family, and people who just happened to hear that I sew. And I’m pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. I’m not expert, but I’ve learned and improved over time.

A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to paint with watercolour. Every so often I sit and create something, and sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s awful. And that’s OK. Because at least I can say I’m doing it. Again, I’m by no means an expert. In fact, I’m not even remotely talented where painting is concerned! But I enjoy the process, and sometimes I think that’s all that matters. Not comparing myself to talented artists who have spent years honing their craft. For me, it’s not a passion, but a hobby. And therein lies the difference, I think.

In the same way that I own four different string instruments and still can’t play a single one. The truth is that whilst I love the idea of being able to play an instrument to go with my singing, I’ve never dedicated the time to learn. I get frustrated when I can’t learn 20 songs in an hour, and then eventually give up. But if I spent time and effort learning them, in the same way that all the talented musicians I admire have learned their instruments, then I could add that to my small list of things I’m not-bad-but-not-awful at.

I blame my lack of time. I blame the fact that I’m not good at a thing (despite not being able to GET good at it if I don’t practice). I blame life, and commitments, and work and a myriad of other things. But hey, in 3 weeks I’m gonna be made redundant anyway. So maybe I can start actually putting in some time and effort to learn a skill properly. Instead of just trying it out every few months and giving up after a day. Maybe I’ll take a class or something, I dunno.

Anyway. The point is, that skills rarely come naturally. And even the ones that do still need to be worked on. And it’s OK to not be good at everything. And it’s also OK to admire in others, skills you would like to have yourself. But if you want to have those skills, you’ve gotta be prepared to work at them. But don’t let not begin good at something stop you from trying it. We’ve all gotta start somewhere.

Practice makes perfect, or something.

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