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If It’s Worth Doing…

Category: The Teen Scene
Posted: February 24, 2017

By: Josh O'Shea, Young Adult Librarian

“Something worth doing is worth being done well.”

“Something worth doing is worth being done badly.”

G.K. ChestertonThese ideas, seemingly contradictory, are both important. We need to work hard at what we do. We need to think, plan, and carry through. I’m the type of person who always has a list of things I want to do, but I know I’m not good at many of them. Most of it has to do with the arts — drawing and painting, for example. Other things like fishing and kayaking are things I don’t do often, and I don’t have great gear or free time time to do them. But they bring me joy. Especially regarding the arts, it’s the creative process that brings joy rather than focusing on the result (unless my craft is so bad it’s ironically hilarious, which has also brought me joy).

These quotes, the first anonymous and the second from G. K. Chesterton, should both be encouraging. We need to work hard at whatever is at hand; most of the time, we get out what we put in; do a bit of research, ask around, do it a little more carefully. On the other hand, there are things that bring us joy that we are no good at doing, but we should do them. It’s important to notice don’t let perfectionism stop you. I have a tendency to freeze if I get overwhelmed, or paralyzed by thoughts of needing to know everything and doing it perfectly before I even start, or else I waste time or end up not doing it. I don’t like admitting it. It feels foolish, weak. Getting flummoxed isn’t cool, and I can’t control my reaction. I have to practice to remind myself to be okay with the panic, but then to say okay, panic time over; how do we do it?

To me, “doing it badly” means I can begin without having perfect knowledge. It means I can ask for help from people around me, that it’s okay if I make mistakes and need to clean up my mess. For the sake of doing something I think is beautiful or important, the mess is okay. “Doing it badly” gives me courage to try things that intimidate me. It allows me to expand my abilities, develop new skills. I’ve never regretted doing something that made me work hard, even after I decided I would never do it again. Work hard, put love into it, and it’ll be worthwhile. We should always try to do thing well, to strengthen our weaknesses. So remember: if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

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