Growing up in front of an audience throws up a lot of challenges. One of the biggest is feeling the pressure to share only the best, most photo-worthy moments and to live the perfect life to match. Great grades, flawless make-up, a beautifully curated Instagram – it’s easy to feel the heavy weight of expectation when it seems like all eyes are on you.
The pressure ramps up further when there’s an endless stream of perfection out there to compare yourself to, whether it’s the girl who goes to the gym five times a week or the food blogger who cooks meals that look way too beautiful to eat. All this makes it pretty difficult to deal with the reality that we can’t be absolutely amazing at everything in life.
But, I’m here with good news! Being bad at stuff is actually kind of…great. And I’m going to prove it with yoga. Well, a story about yoga anyway.
Earlier this year, I decided that I was going to start doing yoga every weekday morning; my imagination buzzing with images of me upside down, contorted in impossible looking angles, probably wearing some kind of amazing leopard print yoga gear that would show off my enviably defined abs. But then I did my first session and those visions were quickly melted away by the reality that my spine seems to be made out of solid steel.
Still, I’d made a promise to myself, so I carried on each day and here I am two months later with my legs over my shoulders. Oh wait, no, I can barely touch my toes. But the thing is, I don’t care even the slightest bit. I don’t care because I committed to doing something for myself and I stuck to it. No pressure, no Instagram posts, no comparisons, just me and my mat for half an hour every day.
Each morning, I watch as the woman on my app swoops into position. She bends from the hip, gracefully and effortlessly folding in half like origami. Meanwhile, I resemble a handful of broken twigs; all odd angles and jutting limbs. While she rests her head by her ankles, my arms dangle in the general direction of my toes.
I creak into half moon pose, ease into something that looks a bit like downward-facing dog and let out involuntary squeaks as I try and hold the plank. I am definitively un-graceful and what I do can certainly not be described as a ‘flow’ but I’m there doing it and I feel transformed afterwards: clear headed and ready for the day.
Every now and then I’ll notice a little improvement; I get an inch further into a stretch, or I hold a pose for longer without wobbling. It’s encouraging and there’s no doubt that it feels like a huge reward for my consistency but make no mistake, I’m still really bad at yoga.
I’ve been bad at plenty of stuff before – gymnastics, running, shot put – and it’s always made me want to quit. “What’s the point in carrying on if I’m not immediately brilliant? Gold medals or nothing, mate”, I’d think. But this time it’s different because I’ve taken perfection out of the equation. I’ve relieved myself of that pressure and given myself the headspace to just do something with absolutely zero expectations – and I think you should do it too.
It doesn’t matter if your portrait of Adele looks more like Tom Cruise or if your signature dish is slightly-too-hard pasta in a questionable sauce. It doesn’t matter if you knit wonky scarves or belly flop into the pool. All that matters is that you love it and you’re doing it.
And whether you decide to share it or not is completely up to you. Not everything you do needs to be for public consumption. It’s totally fine to sew skirts with wonky hems or paint blurry landscapes without ever showing a single soul. Give yourself permission to tuck yourself away and spend a few hours doing your thing without the pressure of wondering how many likes you might get or what other people might think.
On the flipside, never – and I mean never – be afraid to share the fruits of your labour if that’s what you want to do. Be proud of the fact that you’re doing something for no other reason than you love doing it. In my experience, when I’ve talked about my absent yoga skills, I’ve received nothing but words of encouragement from people who understand that it’s about the practice, the dedication to myself and ultimately, the enjoyment.
So grab your paints, lace up your trainers or hit the mat because life’s not about perfection, it’s about having fun.