Why You Should Do Things You Aren’t Good At

Growing up, I was one of those kids who was kinda okay at a lot of things, but not really GREAT at any one thing.

When I was young, I was pretty good at gymnastics — until I hit puberty and lost every trick and skill I had learned since the age of 9.

In high school, I did everything from marching band to academic challenge to musicals to track and field. I could march in time okay but was just a mediocre xylophone player. I was really smart, but could not recall facts quickly enough to be of any use to my quiz bowl team. I loved dancing in my school musicals, but could barely sing in-tune. And forget track and field — I’m a slow runner, can’t jump very far, and am not particularly built for throwing heavy things.

But I did all of those things anyway.

In college, I joined my school’s Student Planning Committee despite knowing nothing about event planning, signed up for a ballet class despite being a terrible, ungraceful ballerina, and continued to do marching band just because of the overseas performance tours.

Great Wall 17

Marching band concert on the Great Wall of China

You see, ever since I was about 13 or 14, I was aware that I was really only *great* at about two things: performing well on tests because I had a decent memory, and writing.

All the rest? I knew I would never get a gymnastics scholarship or launch a wedding planning business or audition for American Idol. And God knows I never had a prayer of even winning a 100-meter dash race.

Before I finished high school, I knew without a doubt that my talents lay in words and not actions. Try as I might all through my youth, I was just not a very athletically-inclined individual.

But you can’t just do one thing for your entire life. You can’t shy away from trying new things just because you might not be good at them.

And so I continue trying. I learned how to swing dance in my spare time in college. I go hiking even though I kind of hate it. I got a bike and hit cycling trails in the summer with my boyfriend. I strap skis onto my feet about once a year and try not to die on the bunny hill.

Toronto Bicycle Tours

I’ll never ride the Tour de France, but I like getting on a bike.

With every new pursuit (and the inevitable struggles and failures that usually follow), I gain new knowledge or a new skill that I didn’t have before. I get to challenge myself, and occasionally come away with some fun stories.

If you don’t try new things, you’ll never know if you might be good at them or not. When I started blogging nearly 5 years ago, I knew NOTHING about buying domain names or installing plugins or using social media. SEO was just a string of letters, and I could not have told you what WordPress was.

Yet here I am now, with a new skill set and a pretty kick-ass blog (if I do say so myself) that I’m really proud of. Yes, it plays to my wordy strengths. But if I had never tried it, I wouldn’t be where I am today, making a living from blogging and writing.

 

Since the beginning of the year is as great a time as any to set some goals, I want to challenge myself to try even MORE things that I’ll probably be bad at this year.

Things like:

More hiking

I don’t really like hiking. In fact, sometimes I would go so far as to say that I hate it. I don’t like climbing uphill or walking for hours on end and I’m just not very GOOD at it in general.

But I want to force myself to do more of it this year. I don’t think I’ll ever love hiking — but maybe I can at least get a little better at it.

Snowboarding

I’ve been skiing quite a few times in the past, starting when I was pretty young. But I’ve never tried snowboarding. Even though I have a fear of falling and breaking my wrists (I blame a gymnastics coach for that one), I’d still like to give snowboarding a go.

Hooker Valley Track at Mount Cook

I won’t be tackling anything like this anytime soon, but you gotta start somewhere!

I don’t have a lot of time left this winter to try it, and Ohio doesn’t have a ton of ski resorts, but nearby Pennsylvania has both ski resorts AND some great deals for the rest of the season (like this one where you can save $5). No deals for an old dog like me (though they DID have a pretty sweet first-timers package earlier in the season), but I saw on the Ski PA site that they’ve still got a deal going for 4th/5th-grade snowpasses.

That’s a GREAT age to try something new like skiing or snowboarding — you’re generally less fearful and more bouncy as a middle-schooler. And if you end up being bad at it, well, you’ve got plenty of time to try other things.

(You can go here to learn more about those snowpasses.)

Cooking

I wouldn’t say I’m BAD at cooking… I can read, and therefore I can follow a recipe just fine. I’m just not the kind of girl who enjoys spending time in the kitchen crafting meals. Luckily for me, I have an awesome guy who does most of the cooking at home — but I do sometimes feel guilty that I don’t contribute more.

Not sure how likely it is that I’ll motivate myself enough to cook regularly, but I would at least like the TRY.

The key is that it’s never too late to try something new — and it’s perfectly fine if you fail miserably at that “something new.”

So tell me — what’s something new YOU would like to try this year?

 

*Note: This post was written by me, but brought to you by Ski PA.

35 Comments

  • Ashley says:

    Agree 100%! I recently started doing tons of things I am not good at alongside people who are great at them. When I stated how awful I was at certain things my friend said, “But you aren’t afraid! You have no fear and that makes it awesome!”

    As for this year, I have recently begun taking gymnastics classes. 🙂
    Ashley recently posted..Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp

    • Amanda says:

      I just started going to an adult gymnastics class, too!!! It’s really fun, but also depressing to realize how much I can’t do anymore. Lol.

      But yeah, it’s all about your attitude when you’re trying new things! Sound like you have a pretty good one. 🙂

  • Good luck with snowboarding – it’s SO hard!! Looks way cooler than skiing but after taking lessons for an entire winter, I never could stay upright. Hopefully you’ll do better than me. Amen to more hiking and cooking… both things that I don’t like but know that they’re good for me and I should do them!
    Anna | The Blonde Banana recently posted..24 Hours in Peaceful Valladolid, Yucatan

  • Great post Amanda! Totally agree. Sounds like I was the same as you growing up: always pretty good at things, but never going to win an Olympic medal, or become a Holywood super star, or join the Royal Philharmonic. Trouble when you’re good at lots of things is, you just want to be the best at one thing! (Or maybe that’s just me…) I think trying new things is a totally healthy way to broaden the one thing that you do love – especially when that’s writing. After all, any new experience can become subject matter! 🙂
    Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog recently posted..The Coolest Secret Bar in New York

    • Amanda says:

      Definitely not just you! Yeah, it’s nice to be good at a lot of things – but gets really frustrating when you aren’t the BEST at ANYthing!

      But it never hurts to try new stuff. After all, you never know when you might stumble upon that one thing that you might become the best at!

  • Katie says:

    Aaahh this is SUCH a great post!! There’s so many things I want to try… I’m usually too nervous to go it alone with people I think are already experts. But screw it… this year I want to try rock climbing! Good luck with the hiking, snowboarding & cooking!
    Katie recently posted..Valentine’s Day Gifts For Travellers (an infographic)

  • Katie says:

    From my own personal experience, hiking becomes easier (and funner) the more you do it and the fitter you get. I used to hate it too but I started small and built myself up to bigger challenges and I couldn’t imagine my life without hiking now, it is the only way I feel truly, deeply connected to my surroundings. Hang in there and push yourself then one day it will seem easy, and hopefully deeply fulfilling
    Katie recently posted..Tackling Cape Town’s Table Mountain

    • Amanda says:

      I certainly hope I’ll love it that much someday! I’m not sure though. I’ve been on longer hikes in all states of fitness – and it just has never “clicked” for me. Maybe one day though!

  • I quite like cooking. Mostly because I LOVE food. But nothing complicated. I tend to steer towards the stupidly healthy when I’m cooking for myself.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted..Rediscovering Civilisation in Helsinki

  • These are pretty good tips Amanda. I don’t have anything “new” that I’d like to try this year but I’d like to improve my swimming. I don’t like the open sea. I once lost my glasses by falling out of a boat, and I’ve been thrown in too many times (I have 3 brothers and no sisters who all thought it swell and amusingly funny. Not!) I’m the type of person who would go on a beach holiday, read, eat, and play games on the beach, but swim in the pool!
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted..You’re looking hot and wearing a fur coat Katie Holmes. Of course you are: It’s Berlin Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2015!

  • Jennifer says:

    Does it really matter if you are good at it? If you are enjoying what you are doing who cares if you are good at? I am a slow hiker, but it doesn’t stop me from loving it. It’s an adventure from the start of a trail to the end of a trail. It’s never just about getting to the destination, it’s about seeing the sights along the way.

    I want to try sky diving and try couch surfacing. I also want to get more practice driving a car in the snow (Winter Iceland Road Trip here I come)
    Jennifer recently posted..Founding of Matd Travel Blog

    • Amanda says:

      Very true! There are quite a few things I really enjoy doing even though I’m not great at them. But, other things… it gets frustrating when you can’t master certain things!

  • hassan says:

    Great post amanda

  • Leah says:

    Ha! This post makes me smile. We’re all pretty bad at a lot of things on only kinda sorta good at a few things, if we’re persistent enough to not give up during the sucking part.

    A personal favorite (and super motivational) quote I’ve ever heard is from a weird cartoon dog from a show I don’t even watch: “Dude, sucking at something is the first step towards bein’ sorta good at something.” #truthbomb

    Keep on keepin’ on!
    Leah recently posted..Why I Travel

  • Jessica says:

    Ah this is so awesome. I love reading your blog Amanda! I love that you aren’t afraid to try new things even if you wouldn’t be good at them. I think the most important thing is to have fun with whatever it is you are trying. I’m trying skiing for the first time this season and I’m loving it. Never too late to learn right? I literally ‘laughed out loud’ at this line “I strap skis onto my feet about once a year and try not to die on the bunny hill.” (I SO relate)
    Jessica recently posted..Teaching Abroad Checklist, the Ultimate Guide

  • Sally says:

    Love this post. I am also the person that is OK at things. Never great and never awful lol! But now I do not care. I just do what I want and what makes me happy! Who cares if I fall off a horse or if I burn the cake… As long as I am enjoying myself!
    Sally recently posted..29 reasons to travel the world right now

  • Katie says:

    I really want to tackle surfing this year … that and I want to get adept at coding!
    Katie recently posted..When is the best time to visit Salar De Uyuni to get the best possible travel experience?

  • Shalee says:

    Hope you are well, Amanda!

    I’ve been catching up on your blog the last couple days and been loving your recent posts. I can totally relate to this one. Let me know if you want to come up to Michigan and I’ll teach you to snowboard! Boyne Mountain offers free skiing on the bunny hill for people who are learning. It’s a pretty good deal and in a beautiful area.

    • Amanda says:

      Ooo free bunny hill! Haha. I hope you’re doing well, too! I don’t think I’ll make it that far north this winter (I was just up in Traverse City this past fall, though!), but thanks so much for the offer. 🙂

  • Patricia says:

    I completely agree!

    I started last year with finally just doing the things I wanted to try to do, without making excuses (like trying to find someone to go with me or wait for…whatever reason). One of the things I tried last summer was stand-up paddleboarding, and I loved it! I only went out onto the water once though, so I’m looking forward to getting out on the water again, and starting early in the summer.

    I’ll look forward to hearing about your snowboarding experiences? Good luck!
    Patricia recently posted..Channeling Inspiration with a Visit to the Hemingway House

    • Amanda says:

      Ooo I love stand-up paddleboarding! I’ve done it a few times now. I wish I lived closer to a large body of water, because if I did I would totally own a paddleboard!

  • Vicky says:

    I recently joined the basketball team in my school. And I am one of the worse ones! I really wanted to try this new sport out, but I feel kind of discouraged because most people are SO much better. I am sort of athletic, I swim and I run, pretty well. I can throw and catch decently, and have good stamina because of swimming, but I don’t know the tactics as much as the other players do. I’m feeling pretty discouraged but want to continue to try! Any advice??

    • Amanda says:

      Keep with it, Vicky! Especially if it’s something you’re interested in and you enjoy. The skill and knowledge will come with practice. And, even if you’re not the best at it, just have fun!!

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