It isn’t talent. It’s boring, everyday skill

You’re going to think this post is about dancing, but it’s not. Bear with me.

I’m currently dealing with two separate obsessions: Stardew Valley and YouTube Shorts. The former is healthier because I get to make choices. The latter is a hole of self-comparisons, de-contextualised political commentary and trendy dances that I fall into every day and it’s truly sucking my soul dry. I scroll like a zombie, see maybe 2 interesting posts out of a hundred then feel bad about wasting my time and gaining nothing. It’s the junkiest of content junk foods.

I’m being fed a lot of dance videos. Bellydancing makes sense because I take bellydancing classes and tend to search for tutorials. But the algorithm then thinks I care about all dances so I get a lot of Indian dancing, which I can’t find a class for in my local area so that just upsets me, shuffling, Shakira, Rihanna’s superbowl show dancers in the white hoodies (why are the comments on those really polarised?) and pole dancing. And as I consume this content my mind goes to one thing.

“Damn these ladies/men in hoodies are talented. I wish I could do that.” *forlorn, self-hating sigh”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks at people who’ve spent years attaining a certain level of proficiency and call it talent. When actually what I’m looking at is skill. It’s hard work and practice and failure and routine. Not to say natural talent isn’t a factor, but it’s also nebulous. Skill can be measured and attained. And saying it’s talent can devalue the efforts put in to realise those talents. So, why do I do this? It’s probably to alienate myself from the possibility of achieving the thing I’m interested in… or maybe just to pay a compliment? Nah, I think it’s a self-sabotage thing.

I recently re-read Atomic Habits and there’s this bit about falling in love with boredom. If you haven’t read the book, its main argument states that setting goals isn’t the way to become the person you want to be. It’s better to create systems. For example, let’s say you want to have a successful blog. You could set the goal of gaining 10,000 readers or 1,000 people on your mailing list, which is something I may possibly occasionally somewhat obsess over. Or, you could build a system of posting weekly or writing everyday and not focus on the readers. “Fall in love with the process rather than the product.” The book argues that to get the life you want (or the successful blog you hope for) you need to fall in love with the boredom of routine.

When I see the short dancing videos, I feel joy and a desire to do the same. To be the same. When I read a great piece of writing, I want to be that.

But I need to stop seeing skill and calling it talent. I’ll get better by doing and by having a system.

So, this is actually just a quick post to inform you that I am no longer focusing on whether I am a talented writer, but telling myself I’m a writer who writes regularly. To do this, I need a system. And that system is new posts every Monday. In the pipeline is a post about quitting my job a couple of months ago, why I hate comment sections but can’t stop reading them and about 30 other half-written pieces.

I just wanted to check in. See you next Monday!

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