And, as the oldest of seven kids, it was not easy to refuse the Kool-Aid.
As my husband, son and I were out bike riding around the beautiful lake in the center of our city Saturday morning, we stumbled across a national rowing competition out on the waters, adjacent to the hike and bike trail.
High school and college kids from around the US were clumped in camps up and down the lakeside, surrounded by their long skinny boats. And, they looked like they were having a blast.
It brought up memories for me of trying and then abandoning many sports and activities—ballet, tennis, violin, singing– that I deemed I wasn’t superior at, so I figured “Why try? Stick to what you really excel at.” (One of my younger brothers played the violin for a quite a while. He started at age four. It seemed when the pressure to excel and become the next Itzhak Perlman kept increasing, he decided to drop it his freshman year in high school. I wonder at what point it stopped becoming fun for him?)
While very American, the problem with this “if you’re going to play, you need to be the best” philosophy is that you miss out on a lot of things that you might actually want to do just for fun. Just for the pure joy of the activity—regardless of your ability. (Check out the chapter from The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal on Good is Good Enough, for some support on releasing overachiever tendencies.)
As I watched the kids compete, I thought how much I want to impart this mindset to my son.
The idea that there are many cool things you’ll want to try in life that you might actually suck at, but that can bring you a lot of pure enjoyment, regardless of whether or not you “score.” (How many times do you hear parents tell their high school athletes, “Looks like you were really having fun out there on the football field! Touchdown, smuchdown, just enjoy this great weather and the opportunity to be with your teammates.)
I recently completed an 8-week Intuitive Painting class that challenged us to paint without a goal in mind. Paint what you feel, in the moment. Don’t try to be good, or make your painting look pretty. Just enjoy the diversity and vibrancy of the colors, the brushstrokes, how the images make you feel, how much fun it is do something with no desired outcome (!).
Fascinating. Truly liberating. (You can google intuitive painting to find classes in your area.)
PS If you’re a woman and interested in being in community with other women who want to try new things just for fun, are interested in experiencing more meaning and joy and who like to practice “good is good enough,” consider joining one of the hundreds of Personal Renewal Groups around the world. I’ll also be providing a “soft place to fall” at my upcoming Spring Self-Renewal Retreat April 24-26 at The Crossings. Check it out.