I Recommend Enjoying Something You’re Terrible at Doing

The photos above probably give it away: I went to a Bob Ross Paint-Along, and it was so much fun!

And… I’m terrible at painting. I mean, look at it…

Yet I enjoyed the attempt very much. I joined some student friends at the Ann Arbor Public Library to watch a half hour video of Bob Ross, who led us in the creation of a scenic view. Unfortunately, he never said the phrase, “happy little trees,” but we created them nevertheless.

Now don’t let Bob’s soothing voice fool you. He may be calming, but gracious, he moves fast!

My first mistake was that I put waaaaay too much water on my canvas at the beginning. Bob typically uses a clear, oil base across the canvas at the beginning. We were instructed to use brushstrokes of water instead. I was too generous with this, so once I started painting in earnest, my initial, happy little trees were remarkably waterlogged. They were more like a big blob of green, floating, meh, non-trees. And the rest “took shape” from there.

It’s possible that I painted in middle school art, though I don’t remember that. I never took an art class in high school or college. The last time I clearly remember painting was when I was using watercolors at preschool age. Does it show? As an adult, it’s also clear to me now that I’ve always had some sort of spacial reasoning deficit too (fun fact: I can’t do jigsaw puzzles… like literally cannot do them. It’s intriguing!) so these things do not set me up to paint well.

But I loved the experience.

And I just want to say that it can be wonderfully refreshing to simply play, thoroughly enjoying something you’re terrible at doing. I want to recommend this in whatever the equivalent may be for you.

Too often, we’re focused on results and outcomes for their own sake. We also get caught up in comparison and competition with others. But process matters. Play matters. Enjoyment for its own sake matters. And it can be especially fun to do it with others.

Do something terribly.

Enjoy it thoroughly.

Renee Roederer

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