Volume 2, Issue 19: On the Importance of Doing the Things You Enjoy & Do Well

Hi friends! Today’s newsletter is a culmination of a few things. Back in May, I wrote about the importance of doing things for fun, that is, doing things not for compensation in any way (monetary, social media “likes”). A couple weeks ago I wrote about the idea that just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean you should do the thing. I’ve also written a number of times that sometimes the catalyst that pushes me to do something is finally just being sick of my own bullshit.

I “should” myself a lot. It’s often in the form of what I “should” be doing. Like, I want to read some random graphic novel but I should be reading the things that I’m getting paid to talk about. I want to bake but I should really take care of my floordrobe. I want to get back to learning to play the ukulele but I should be writing.

I feel safest when there is an order to things. Is it my OCD and general anxiety? Maybe! Is it just me making arbitrary rules for myself because I grew up in an environment that had a lot of rules and I feel like there should always be rules? Maybe it’s that, too!

Is any of this serving me? No! It’s not! Because you know what happens? Instead of writing when I actually want to play ukulele, I end up doing neither because I’m not in the mood to write but I don’t allow myself to make music so I do nothing! I stare at Instagram and end up doing neither the thing I want to do nor the thing I think I should be doing. That is ridiculous. Of course, there is always the argument that playing ukulele is part of writing because the way that creativity is linked for some people etc. etc. but I’m not even there yet because I’m doing neither. Just being held back by my own shitty, arbitrary, utterly useless rules I make for myself.

Until this past weekend that is, when I finally got sick of my own bullshit. It’s a recurring theme. The 3-day weekend gave me a bit of space to be introspective (ugh) and kind to myself (double-ugh). So, I baked cookies, subscribed to a music learning app and started learning, tuned my ukuleles, went to the music shop in my neighborhood and ordered a new case for my good ukulele (also bought a Green Day songbook for ukulele), and sent a message to my local bookshop and ordered a copy of the ABBA Gold songbook for ukulele because I am determined to learned “Chiquitita” and then be even more insufferable.

And wow, I feel like a whole new person after doing these things. Is this, joy? This is that “fun” thing I was talking about? Huh. Weird.

Because most of this newsletter is just me dragging myself, I want to share with you the absolutely absurd thing I do regarding cookies. What will happen is that I will want a cookie. So, I buy a cookie from a bakery. It’s not the cookie I want. I buy another cookie from another bakery. It’s also not the cookie I want. I buy a bag of fancy cookies from our fancy grocery store. They are also not the cookies I want. It’s now been multiple weeks where I’ve spent money on cookies I only took a bite of because they underwhelm me. What I really want are cookies made by me. My cookies are phenomenal, not gonna lie. But every few months I go through this clownery of a cycle where I waste time, money, and energy when I really could just take an hour and bake myself some cookies. I do not know why I do this. Anyway, here are my cookies:

I also want to share with you the importance of not only learning new things but also doing things we like that we already know how to do. The chocolate chip cookies above? I could make them in my sleep. I not only end up with delicious cookies, but also with the satisfaction of indulging in a familiar skill that I’m good at. I’ve also been getting major serotonin boosts from performing songs from musicals a couple times a day. I’ve been working from home so a couple times a day, I put on some showtunes and belt them out. (I am aware that not everyone has the privilege of working from home so your mileage may vary.) Many of you don’t know that my minor in college was musical theatre performance. I was classically trained in voice and I even got to sing at the Hollywood Bowl a few times (18,000 people! Sold out crowds!). Music is one of the few ways to really get me present in my body and feelings and is a guaranteed boost to my mood (even though I sing mostly sad songs. That’s another story for another time).

Do not underestimate the power of doing things that you know you’re already good at. Yes, it’s good to push yourself and learn new things and also it’s important to remind yourself of the ways in which you have value outside of “work” and even if you doing attribute value to these things, it’s important to do things that bring you joy.

Unrelated, but before I end today’s newsletter, I wanted to make sure that you all saw this very special message from Steve from Blue’s Clues. I’m too old to have watched it as a child, but I watched a lot with my eldest fairy godchild when he was a kiddo.

That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores (except not today’s music books, I can’t find them on Bookshop. Le sad). If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.

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