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It’s a common experience: you fall in love with a hobby, craft, or pastime, but when you see others excelling and perfecting it, you decide to quit while you’re ahead. Maybe you were comparing yourself to others too much, or you didn’t think it was worth it to practice something if you were never going to master it.

Lately, I have been shifting my focus to the idea of practicing things that I enjoy so that I can be more present in the process of learning and developing skills rather than practicing them to perfect them. 

Sometimes we work so incredibly hard at perfecting something that we are not able to be present in what we are doing. We may not get the opportunity to sit with the feeling of doing things simply because we enjoy them, as we become focused on accomplishing or producing an idea that we have set in our minds.

As silly as it may sound, I spent years feeling scared to try new makeup ideas because I was surrounded by people who were much more advanced than me. I was scared to look ridiculous and make a fool of myself. Now, I am pushing myself to try fun makeup styles and learn as I go, rather than feel bad for not knowing better techniques. This has helped me enjoy the process of learning about makeup without the added pressure to perform as well as those with more experience or professional makeup artists.

Similarly, consider someone who may not identify as an artist but loves painting in their free time. They may never win awards for their art pieces, and that is completely okay. The person painting may simply love sitting down with a brush to paint a sunset because it calms them down, or helps them connect with a family member or loved one. Practicing painting brings them joy, and is not centered around achieving something. 

There are also benefits that come from practicing things we enjoy. For example, this article from Psychology Today examines the undercurrent of perfectionism in our daily tasks and the joy of creating things without making them perfect. It highlights the benefits of practicing, including an increase in structure, humility, and new experiences or ideas. 

For instance, for folks who work full-time and have various other responsibilities, setting aside an hour each week to practice a hobby may help build a schedule and sense of routine. Routines are often correlated to lower levels of stress and better mental health overall.

Similarly, practicing hobbies can not only bring new experiences but also new friends or connections. Say you decide to go to a group knitting class, you will likely be exposed to a variety of new people.

By far though, one of the largest benefits of learning to practice rather than perfect is being kinder to yourself. 

All this being said, the next time you want to try something new or work on a hobby, I challenge you (and myself) to do it with the intention of learning, growing, and being present in the experience. Practice to simply be, rather than perfect.



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