Easy Peasy: Finding Ease in Being Ok at Things

Easy Peasy: Finding Ease in Being Ok at Things

I’ve said it before. Kids need to play. Kids play because it is a core tenet of their development. I’m not talking about playing a sport or an instrument. I’m talking about play, for play’s sake. Getting good at things is incredible. Challenging one’s self and seeking improvement is lovely. We wouldn’t be people without development, but here’s the thing. We’ve leaned so heavily into the competition, being the best, trying our best, and winning (all of these behaviors are steeped in white supremacy and capitalism, but that’s a much larger conversation for another day) that we sacrifice some beautiful things about being human. Things like connection, ease, joy, fun, peace, and self-satisfaction. 

The other day, I saw a TedTalk clip on Instagram that talked about just this. This idea that we have to always be trying our best, the thought of striving 100% of the time, is anxiety-inducing at the least and paralyzing at its worst. What if we’re doing the thing without competing with some future or past version of ourselves? What if there’s no force behind the action, no squeeze to eke out that 5% more that will make it the best? Could we just be in the moment? 

I am leaning toward the idea that people, kids included, need more time to be average, non-remarkable, and even terrible at things. Instead of trying to be the best, we could focus on enjoyment. We could find the pleasure of being in the moment of creation. I become better when I am actively engaged and enjoying learning, connecting, and creating. Success, bettering, and besting myself could be a by-product of ease and enjoyment. 

All of these words come from someone who has only recently become aware of my own internal competition, my need to be the best, my type A, gifted-kid stuff that says if you aren’t going to be the best at it, why even try. In my 40s and 20 years of teaching later, I genuinely think that comparison is the thief of joy. Winning is great. Doing things you’re proud of and working hard through challenging tasks is the marrow of life, but only with the acknowledgment that the dull and the parts of you that aren’t great at stuff and mundane are just as lovely. 

Kids don’t always need to be competing or preparing for their college applications. Kids need lots of time to be average and unremarkable and do things that make them feel pretty good while they’re doing them. 

Kids need lots of time to feel connected to each other without competition or comparison involved. They need to see us adults doing the same. 

At the shop, there are no awards, no one way to do something, and no treats for good behavior. We’re just here, learning how to make stuff and helping each other through sticky situations in a low-stakes environment. It’s just arts and crafts. Which is everything and nothing at all. 

Some Phrases to Help Ease Your Kids into Ease
  • You really enjoy that, don’t you? I can tell. 
  • Let’s try it and see what happens?
  • No one is perfect the first time they do something. 
  • It’s ok to be ok at stuff. We don’t have to be great to enjoy it.
  • I really like doing ____. I don’t need to be the best to like ____.

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