I have recently taken up embroidery.
By “recently,” I mean a few weeks ago, and also six months ago, and also eight months before that. I mean, basically, that I have taken up embroidery for the 67th time.
The thing about embroidery is that — much like exactly every other hobby or craft or art form — it’s harder than it looks. It’s one thing to watch someone who has put in the time and effort to become really good at the thing do the thing, or to look at a beautiful finished product by such a person, and think, “I could do that!” (Or even, more modestly, “I would like to do that!”) It’s another thing altogether to, you know: do that.
I could call it perfectionism or Gifted Child Syndrome or the Taste Gap or nothing at all; I can just admit that I don’t like being bad at stuff. Which is why I keep being bad at stuff. Because I pick up new stuff I am excited about, I want to be good at, and when I am not immediately good at it, I get frustrated and discouraged and I quit. There’s that joke about how accruing the materials to start a new hobby that one then never actually picks up is itself a hobby.
That’s me. I am that joke.
I have a cupboard full of knitting supplies (in my defense, once upon a time I used to knit), needle-felting kits, sewing stuff, embroidery hoops and floss, stationery and fountain pens and bottled inks and washi tape. My office is cluttered with actual musical instruments, gardening supplies, and a whole-ass recurve bow. My Dropbox is crowded with rough drafts that aren’t rough enough, because I don’t like writing rough things, because I write a chapter or four chapters or six chapters and then go back and polish and polish obsessively until all I can see is the mirror-shine of what I’ve written and I can’t figure out how to bridge that to the half-baked junk that comes next.
So I have decided to spend this year trying something new. (Again.) (Again again.)
The difference is that this time rather than resolving to be good at any particular new thing, I am resolving to be bad at stuff. Just, you know, give it a whirl. It is my goal to be bad at a bunch of new things, because it’s freeing and because it’s funny. (Those are my expectations, anyway. Maybe I will start stressing myself out about not being good enough at being bad at stuff.)
I am already so bad at embroidery.