My ukulele had been sitting in a corner in my room for months. A few months ago I had been really excited about learning to play it and getting a step closer to my hippie dream but amidst all of the hustle-bustle of the world and my inability to complete any task, it became only a showpiece collecting dust. In quarantine I decided to give it a shot again. And I didn’t see it as a task to be completed or a challenge to overcome, I simply picked up and played the two chords I faintly remembered. And to no surprise it didn’t sound good at all. But I still played and I started to enjoy it, it put a smile on my face on a relatively foggy day. Then I started practicing it more. It’s not easy for someone who hasn’t touched an instrument in twenty years to suddenly play a ukulele. Remembering the strumming pattern was hard and holding the strings down to play the chords was almost impossible. It took time, I am still learning.
In the comfort of my own room, practicing everyday came easily, there were no deadlines to be met, there was no one keeping track of my progress. It was just me playing the ukulele and being pretty bad but still having fun. It took a pandemic for me to realize that it was okay to not be great at everything I do.
How many times do we give up on a hobby or an activity we like doing only because we aren’t good at it?
We always try to find things that we are good at and stick to them rather than doing something we find happiness in. We as humans have been conditioned to believe that we have to be good at what we do and thus we have also learned to criticize others and ourselves when we don’t meet expectations. This is the reason we shy away from trying new things and changing our existing hobbies. Because we are already comfortable and good at the things we do. We stop seeing the world as a place full of possibilities. We start to live in a mental cage of our own construction. I came to realize that this was the reason I stopped playing the ukulele in the first place because I was really bad at it and for a while was making no progress at all. I had never taken this much time to learn a new skill. This was the first time I was really finding it hard to improve and make progress. So I completely dismissed it and focused on things I knew how to do. The reason I bought the ukulele was only to have fun but I had completely forgotten that. I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy something I wasn’t good at. I now have new found respect for people who do things that they aren’t great at because that takes more courage than doing what you inherently know how to do.
You don’t have to be good at something for it to be good for you.
You can enjoy dancing even if you don’t know how to and you don’t have to paint a masterpiece to enjoy painting. We must learn to enjoy the process of doing things rather than focusing on the end product. When someone tells us that they wrote a piece we have a subconscious need to judge the piece on it’s quality. We never ask how they felt doing it. Because if making art or writing poetry made them feel good then there is no reason they shouldn’t keep doing it. We as a society have imposed so many restrictions on ourselves, we give up on things before even trying. We see ourselves and others in terms of what they do. A dancer, a writer or a painter. But we aren’t just what we do, we are simply beings who do things. What we do shouldn’t define us. I for example am a person who writes sometimes and tries to play the ukulele. I am not what I do, none of us are. Keep doing things you enjoy even if you aren’t good at them, there’s nothing to lose.
P.S- I can play four chords now.