Stick to What You’re Good at (And Why This Is The Worst Advice I Ever Received)

I used to have hobbies.
In elementary school I could entertain myself for hours. I read everything in sight and created whole worlds out of Sculpey (my creations still take up a whole shelf in my mother’s dining room hutch). I liked to paint and draw and play outside. We also had a great dress-up bin which could easily entertain Allison and me for days on end. I even picked up a few musical instruments. It started with piano and flute (which were unsuccessful) and then I fell in love with the idea of playing the harp. I did make it through 5 years of lessons, but I was never a fan of practicing.

Looking back I think this was the biggest oops in my life. I was quick enough at memorizing the music that I never had to learn how to read or understand music theory. And that lack of effort resulted in 2 major consequences:

  1. I only participated in things I was naturally good at because they required the least amount of effort for the most amount of praise.
  2. I never learned how to actually work toward something that didn’t have a direct “reward” for me waiting at the end (eg. a good grade, etc)

In high school, I took up singing and musical theatre and that became my everything. I spent almost every day after school in rehearsals and lessons. I even went to so far as to audition and be admitted to a School of Music in college.

Unfortunately, things can actually get really boring when you don’t have to try very hard. I would go to my weekly lessons in college, but never practiced because I didn’t know how! I could no longer get away without practicing but instead of figuring it out, I decided to quit singing completely.  I found a different degree I was interested in (and naturally very good at) and made school my life.

When I wasn’t doing school, I worked part-time in the Admissions office. I made good friends there, found some great professional references, and gained good work experience that would help me land a job almost immediately out of school. I never bothered to join any student orgs (I went to a few meetings, but it seemed like a lot of work for no pay-off) and I never developed any new interests.

10 years later and this is where I am. No hobbies to speak of and without the skills to learn anything new (or motivate myself to do so).

So here’s my challenge – this year I’m going to find things I enjoy doing and stick with them, starting with this blog. I’ll chronicle my experiences, interests, discoveries and frustrations and hopefully help another 20-something find something they like doing as well.

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6 thoughts on “Stick to What You’re Good at (And Why This Is The Worst Advice I Ever Received)

  1. I found you at First Friday and I’m so glad that I did!

    I can totally relate to this. I only ever did things that I was naturally good at, and while so I lost out on things I could’ve excelled at. It took me a long, long time to create and indulge in hobbies. I’m the other 20-something you’re taking about!
    I’d love to know your journey, following you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I am your polar opposite. The more difficult something is the more determined I am to master it. And watch out if someone told me I would never be able to do “X”. That being said, I know I have missed out on some activities that were too easy and therefore beneath my interest. I look forward to seeing where your journey takes you.

    Liked by 1 person

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