Why You Should Be Joyfully Terrible at Something
My short-lived, middle-school basketball career could more accurately be described as one long lesson in bench warming. I don’t know if it was actual skill or blind adrenaline that powered my preteen self through the tryouts, but somehow, I made the team. I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name on the roster thumbtacked to the bulletin board by the locker room. I’ll make them so glad they picked me, I thought. I’ll be MVP.
I most definitely was not the MVP. Instead, I scored two points all season. Four months. One basket. Two points. I spent the rest of the time trying unsuccessfully to not get on the bad side of the basketball mean girls, who were, let’s say, not enthusiastic to have me on the team.
Maybe I’m showing those mean girls now, though, because shmfffrrrnnnty years later, I — the erstwhile benchwarmer — have found the fortitude to once again join a basketball team. When I signed up for my local rec league, I fully expected to fail miserably again. But I just really love basketball. And these ladies, who have played together for decades, have welcomed me. Every week, we play. And even with all the lingering bad memories, it’s a joy to be back on the court.
The importance of play
In today’s busy world, we often don’t give hobbies enough credit for the benefits they provide us. According to the psychiatrist Gail Saltz, hobbies are important precisely because they offer a way to play. And play doesn’t just provide a sense of fun, she explains; it’s also stress-reducing and mentally engaging. “Hobbies are a place to put your mind in a state of flow, which feels creative and productive,” she says. Saltz points out that learning something new can be a net benefit in your relationships. After all, it’s another arena of your life to share with your partner, kids, friends, and/or co-workers. And if you’re looking for a more practical reason, something like an improv, acting, or writing class could even enhance your interview skills and make you a more desirable hire.
We all have excuses
I love my basketball nights so much that I’ve made it a mission to recruit a friend I’ll call Gloria. I’m convinced…