film / tv / politics / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / politics / web / celeb

Lisa Simpson Meditation.jpg

From Crochet Squares to Downward Dog: The Joys of Sucking at Something You Love

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Miscellaneous | March 2, 2018 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Miscellaneous | March 2, 2018 |

Lisa Simpson Meditation.jpg

This morning, I trudged through the snow - something the smart people on TV actively warned me against - to go to yoga. This was my third class ever in the beginners’ session, and it felt worth the possibility of freezing my face off during the short commute to the studio. At one point, the instructor, a woman my age and three quarters my size, asked us to do something called a vertical split. Some groans were elicited, and thankfully I wasn’t the loudest of the bunch. The move involves placing both hands on the floor in front of you, and stretching one leg behind you to form an upside-down L shape. Most people seemed to do it with relative ease but I, if you’ll pardon the double entendre, couldn’t get my leg up. A moment of embarrassment followed, then the urge to just laugh at pathetic attempts. All of that was alleviated when the very lovely instructor quietly came over and taught me an easier way to do it. Even then, I still struggled, but I almost got it. That was good enough.

I’m still a beginner, but it’s safe to say that for the most part, I actively suck at yoga. I struggle to turn my mind off and focus on that inner being thing people keep telling me about, and I have the natural balance of a heavily sedated dog. Still, I keep going because, oddly for someone who classifies herself as tragically unfit, I’ve been enjoying the experience. There’s something undeniably inviting about taking one hour a week to just focus on a single activity.

For my 2018 resolutions, I promised myself two major things: I’d exercise more and I would take up a hobby that wasn’t spending all day arguing with strangers about movies or posting gifs of attractive Scandinavians on Twitter. Shortly before I braved the yoga experience, I bought some wool, a pair of knitting needles and a beginners’ set of crochet hooks. A lot of people had told me that crocheting was really easy to pick up and would relax me as well as letting me make cute garments. For the first three days of trying, I wanted to dearly hurt everyone who had told me such a scurrilous lie. Even after watching multiple instructional videos on YouTube, each hosted by exceptionally sweet women with impeccably manicured nails, I couldn’t wrap my head around such a seemingly simple move. At one point, I yelled at my screen in aggravation - and total lack of self-awareness - ‘I don’t know which hole it’s supposed to go into!’

Again, pardon the entendre.

Once I finally figured out the most basic stitch, I set about making a little pink crochet square. It seemed to be going well, and I felt a burst of smugness that I’d finally conquered the wool. That ended once I realised that my square had become a triangle, like a ragged cat’s ear. That ear is now hanging from my living room door.

I’ve gotten better at crocheting - knitting came easier because I did it as a kid and my mum helped out more than I care to admit - but I can’t say for certain I’ve made anything that looks better than ‘almost not bad’. The first scarf I started is shaped like a vase, curling and bouncing in and out as I got lazy with counting the stitches. I’m currently making a baby blanket for my cousin and it’s suffered from a similar problem. Thankfully, babies have less discerning tastes. Still, like my yoga incompetence, I keep at it because I really enjoy doing it.

I don’t take many risks, and even the stuff I consider risks is pretty tame. I hate asking for help, which impedes any attempt I make to try something new. Going to a public space to exercise with other people was nightmare fuel for the longest time. If I couldn’t figure out something the first time around, I was more prone to toss it aside than keep trying. Why bother if you aren’t immediately good, right? And even once you figure it out, if you still suck at it then what’s the point? It’s a toxic mindset at the best of times, but when all you want is to make yourself happy, it’s the ultimate mind-block.

Throughout this, I’ve found a new kind of joy - the fun in doing something you love when you actively suck at it. There’s no expectations beyond your own, you don’t have to worry about competing with anyone or being subjected to their scorn. Freeing yourself of that embarrassment reveals something truly special - most people genuinely don’t give a shit about whether you can do downward dog or a proper crochet stitch. They don’t care if you fail at making that delicious dish you wanted to replicate from a Nigella cookbook. All those people surrounding you at the art class you took have no interest in judging your mediocre attempts at brush calligraphy. Really, at least from my experience, people are just glad you tried. They like to encourage you to get better or enjoy the moment for what it is.

My studies necessitate meeting high standards. My work does too (keep your jokes to yourselves), and generally, keeping it together in public is a basic requirement of my day, even when there are times I want to slump back into bed and not give a shit. It’s a relief to do something surely for pleasure, even if your abilities are somewhat lacking. Call it self-care, self-improvement or simple hobby time, but I don’t do stuff like this enough, so when I do, I find exceptional nourishment in the process. I may not be great or even good at most of it, but I can still do it. Three weeks ago, the possibility of doing yoga terrified me, but now I know that, as tough as it can be, I can get through an hour of it and find true enjoyment in the challenge. People rag on us poor millennials for our apparent thirst for participation trophies, but dammit, sometimes it’s freaking hard just to convince yourself to join in with something so hell yes, I want my trophy. Trying is good, failing is fine, and truly, you can enjoy both.

Five Things To Know Before The 2018 Oscars | What Spoilers Are Too Well-Known To Be Spoilers Anymore?

Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.