Stop me if you’ve heard this one before….
A woman* decides she wants to start something new. Maybe it’s a hobby or maybe it’s something more meaningful. She gathers a few supplies and dives right in. She decides it is really fun and fulfilling so she finds a few websites or books about her new activity so she can learn more about it. And then it happens.
She sees them.
Digging deeper and deeper into the community of her new joy, she sees many who are incredibly talented. At first, it’s inspiring and wonderful. She thinks wow, what amazing work! This is beautiful. But over time, she starts to have a nagging thought. She doesn’t even see it coming.
“I’m doing it wrong”
Now the Google searches turn to best practices, ways to improve or get more out of it. The joy that was once in this activity had somehow turned into an obsession with improving, competing, or worse, giving up because she knows she’s never going to be “at that level.”
You’re not doing it wrong
Do you see yourself in my little story? I sure see myself. Most of the time I don’t even realize I am knee-deep in comparison until it’s too late and the damage is done. It’s such a sneaky process.
I’m being particularly vague here because this can be applied to basically any activity you stopped loving and you aren’t sure why. In hindsight you’ll see right where the wheels fell off. Whether it be parenting, crafting, knitting, writing, photography or in the workplace, that draw to success (whatever that is) can make us crazy.
This habit of “justing” is exactly why I created Just is a Four Letter word. I just wish I were better at that. I just wish I could go to more field trips. I just wish I didn’t feel so guilty about working. I just exercise some of the time. I just want to be my best self.
Why is that so bad?
What I learn over and over and over again (high-fives to those who have seen me go through this before) is that no matter what my “just” is, someone else has one to match. You’ve heard that comparison is the thief of joy, and that is mostly true. But a thief isn’t really a thief if we freely hand the goods over, right?
Are you giving your power away?
If you have children, you know exactly what I am talking about. I’ve had conversation after conversation with my boys about owning their power. We have control over our reactions and how we respond to family, friends and outside expectations. There is also power in creating.
Sometimes I hear the phrase, “it’s not really that good,” when a drawing is presented to me and it stops me in my tracks like a record scratch. I make eye contact and firmly respond, “It IS good. You made this. It is yours and you should be very proud of yourself. I am proud of you. Don’t give the power of your voice away because you think it should be better.”
More like this: Finishing is winning.
So why do I give power to my “justs”? Part of it is a true longing to improve. I imagine if I were a chef, I would be tinkering with my prize-winning recipes long after the trophies gathered dust. It’s hard to let things be what they are. It can be really difficult to endure the process without trying to improve it and there is no shame in that.
We want to be great. We want to impart wisdom or be funny or create something beautiful. These are all good things. But when our doubts creep in and stop us from creating at all? This is a problem.
As a blogger and social media manager, I am always checking out the new toys or as we know them, social media platforms. I LOVE some Instagram and when I found out about live-streaming on Periscope(follow me!), I was immediately hooked…along with thousands of my closest friends. At first, I didn’t really know what to talk about so after a few scopes I sat back and watched idea after amazing idea take shape on Periscope. I felt all of the above and more until I had convinced myself that it just wasn’t the platform for me.
There’s that word again.
Every now and again I would do a little scope when I was out or traveling. It was easy to point the camera at something other than myself and I really enjoyed it so I didn’t want to give up entirely. After a few months of dabbling, I jumped in with both feet. I’m still no pro, but I am having fun!
There is value in simply loving what you love
This is my world, but I know I am not the only one with these thoughts. Being a working parent doesn’t always leave tons of space for the fun stuff, but that doesn’t mean there is no space at all. We just have to use it wisely. We need to fight to simply love what we love for the sake of loving it.
Improvement is wonderful, but it doesn’t happen through research, it happens through action. And if you love what you are doing? Keep doing it whether you improve or not. It’s a simple truth, but so important and something I want to remember.
What do you love? What keeps you from doing it?
*Or man, but you’ll have to speak for yourself 🙂
Coping when you feel out of control