Why, as humans, do we spend so much energy to shy away from the things that we are bad at? How would life be different if we gravitated towards the skills that do not come naturally to us, rather than avoiding them?
Every year on January 1st, society makes a commitment to strive for self-improvement. Each person is expected to choose an area of personal growth. You announce it to your family and friends, post about it on social media and for a week of your life it consumes your every thought. If you are really committed, it might last two weeks, and if you are one of the rare few it could last a month, a few months or even the whole year. Now that it’s mid-February, it’s safe to say that most have left their New Year’s Resolutions behind. But why?
Obviously, it’s really hard to change our habits. Even extremely simple changes, like writing down three things you are grateful for each day or adding in a five minute ab workout, challenge us. Science tells us that it
takes weeks to form a habit. We are forgetful and often easily distracted. However, I don’t know that our biggest struggle with changing our lifestyles is the habit-building element of it (although that is difficult). I believe that truly, it is a matter of prioritizing change.
Generally, our New Year’s Resolutions reflect the people that we want to become, rather than the people that we currently are. How many times in your life have you wanted to be good at something, but you were not right away? And how many of those times have you actually invested in improving that skill? When we think about personal growth, we all want to become more well-rounded people. We want to have healthy bodies, an active social life, successful careers, good family relationships and somehow balance all of that with getting enough sleep. Society places all these expectations on us, we place them on each other, and we place them on ourselves.
When we take the time to invest in things we may not have the most natural talent for, we open the door for a form of personal growth that we can’t achieve from working on the same skills we have always had. It takes courage to put yourself out there and jump into unnatural or uncomfortable situations. It takes a lot of humility to be a beginner at something as an adult and surround yourself with people who have more talent or experience than ourselves. But I believe that by investing the time
and energy it takes to do this, we won’t just become better artists, intellectuals and athletes, but we will also become better people. By learning to appreciate the crafts that bring others joy, we develop an appreciation and empathy for them that we may have never shared before. We can connect on a deeper level, because rather than just connecting over common interests, we can connect on uncommon interests.
So, buy a set of paintbrushes. Sing along to the radio. Go to the gym. Read a book. Write a story. Go dancing with your friends. Build a model rocket.
It’s not January 1st, but it’s not too late for us to have a more well-rounded, more open-minded 2021.