Not my thing? Or just need to practice?

I had a lovely conversation with a few brilliant women yesterday. We left off with a question to pick up next time: how do you know when something “isn’t my thing” versus “I just need to practice”? In other words, is the activity not for me, or am I just frustrated because I don’t have the skills I want yet?

Maybe the difference is simply in the willingness to practice. Is my desire to have this skill strong enough to push me through the messy beginning?

Maybe “begin with the end in mind” isn’t always a good plan, and that at the beginning, I’m so far from the end that I don’t find joy in the beginning.

It was my experience that on average, kids are easier to teach how to play instruments than adults are. Adults take up an instrument with a goal—a song they want to play or a musician they want to emulate on some level—and no one sounds like that when they start, or any time remotely soon thereafter. They aren’t happy with how they sound or the progress they make because it’s still “bad.” 

(“Bad” is relative. Some people I’ve taught have made amazing progress relative to their experience then quit because they weren’t “good” … when they really just needed to keep going.)

Kids don’t usually have that down-the-road goal—they play an instrument because it’s offered at school or because their parents want them to—so when they’re able to play any song with some competence, it’s very exciting. The messy middle comes later.

I’m roadblocked with fiber arts. I’d love to love to sew or knit or crochet … and I just don’t. I’ve tried, and I don’t practice consistently enough to get basic skills in place, so I’m repeatedly at the beginning.

Are those things just not for me? Or do I just need to practice? So far, my desire to not work on it has won out over my desire to have the skills. 

Part of that is making time. I’ve made time to sew when I’ve been with other people who I loved and sewing was the common activity. (And also, they could help when I got stuck.) But free time? I’m not spending it crocheting.

(I don’t watch TV, so “use it to keep your hands busy when you’re watching TV” doesn’t work. And also, that implies a level of skill where I wouldn’t need to constantly watch what I’m doing, and I didn’t make it that far.)

Not having these skills isn’t currently lowering my quality of life, and I still have more to do than time to do it, so I’m not worried about it and it’s not a problem to solve. It’s simply an easy example to offer to this question: just practice, or not my thing?

In addition to putting this question out there, this post is also an experiment, because I’m meeting with these ladies next week. So here are my initial thoughts, and I’ll share my expanded thoughts next week. 

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