Why You Should Do Things You Aren’t Good At

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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.


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.)


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.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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36 Comments on “Why You Should Do Things You Aren’t Good At

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  1. I seriously doubt you did all those things in high school, despite not being good at them.

    I was a terribly slow runner, and was cut from the track team.
    I wasn’t good at soccer, and watched my team play from the bench.
    I wasn’t a good actor, and wasn’t selected for plays.
    I wasn’t good at basketball, and wasn’t selected for the team.
    Do you see a pattern?

    Kids (and adults) who are GOOD are allowed to do things, because it benefits the TEAM. Having a so-so anybody on a team doesn’t help them, that’s why only good performers get to do things. I would’ve loved to do all those cool things, but even activity leagues outside of school (including college) were based on tryouts; and you’d be cut if you weren’t good enough.

    So please spare me the “try it even if you suck” mentality. It isn’t how the real world works.

      I’m sorry that you had a different experience to mine, but there are no lies in this post. I was on the track team for 3 years; I was in every school musical as a dancer; I did gymnastics for 9 years. There are, in fact, benefits to being parts of teams and participating in activities other than winning, especially as a kid.

      If we never tried anything new for fear of being bad at it, we’d never grow as people.

    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??

      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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