Well this is really new for me. I’ve never really written a blog post without an end goal of “fix this” or “teach how to do that”. I guess you could call this post a little more “creative writing”. I was just reflecting about my past and how I’ve had such varied interests and passions over the years. I wasn’t looking back in a “what if” kinda way like I was thinking about different paths I could’ve taken. It was more of a nostalgic look back. It dawned on me how much I’ve enjoyed the learning of a new skill and how the process of learning is what has led me to some of the best relationships over my life.
When I first got out of college I moved out to LA to pursue an entertainment career. Like most people interested in that path, I wanted to do it all. So I pursued a lot of it. I took acting classes, I did extra work for movies and TV, I took sketch comedy writing classes, I did improv, I worked on as many short film sets that would hire me in every department from production to lighting. I didn’t specialize and focus in one area. And guess what…looking back on it…I sucked. Seriously, I’m sure I wasn’t great at any of them. That’s not being overly critical of myself, it’s just the reality of the situation.
But here’s the thing. I wasn’t supposed to be good at those things. How could I be? I didn’t grow up in an area or a school that had anything remotely similar to what you’d find on the lowest budget student film in LA. What I realize now is that everyone around me at the time kinda also sucked. It didn’t matter that we all sucked. We all were at the same level at the same time. Taking improv is probably the best example I can think of. Even when you completely bombed a scene it didn’t really matter. The other people would lift you up anyway. We were all kinda floundering at the same time. There was a bond in not being good, a support in the struggle.
That led me down a further path of discovery in finding other areas of that being true. Guess what, I found it a lot. My entire sporting career was like that. I was “small town good” at soccer and that drove me to play in college. Again, in college we collectively weren’t very good. But again there was such joy and lasting relationships that came out of us not being good. We lifted each other up with each struggle and that drove each of us to want to be there for each other and show up to get better. I built some of the best relationships of my life because I pursued that passion.
That leads me to how that ties into the overall “theme” of this website. When I thought about it I thought about how my love for woodworking and building things is very much the same. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m bad at it per se but I would no way consider myself a pro. Finding others that lifted me up and continued to support my mediocre projects over the years has propelled me to keep getting better. SoCal Woodshop was and is instrumental for me in that sense (even several states away). I had a lot of the passion before I had a lot of the skills. I’m not saying the other guys were no good. Honestly, the group had a pretty wide range of skills with some guys being much better than others in one particular facet. But none of us would consider ourselves or each other “Pro”. (Although Taylor Hubbell is making a good push at it)
I guess what I’m saying is that find your group of “suckers”. I think that’s what drove so much of the woodworking instagram growth 3 or 4 years ago. It became so easy to find other woodworkers of your skill level and even those to aspire to and learn from. Building a community like that is such a valuable tool for growth in all aspects of your life. Sure, being good at something is the ultimate goal but sometimes it’s just as much fun or more to just enjoy the growth of being mediocre for a while.
Long story short, in order to get good, you just gotta get going. You know the whole saying “it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Find ways to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. And having a bunch of people to take on the journey with you is a lot more fun.