THE Im­por­tance BEIN G RUB­BISH (At Some­thing)

New Year, new you? Screw that, says Re­becca Reid, be­cause be­ing aw­ful at some­thing is ac­tu­ally quite good for youé

Look (UK) - - LIFE -

It’s Fri­day night. My friends are in the pub down­ing Sau­vi­gnon Blanc, swap­ping lip­sticks and plan­ning where they’re go­ing out. Me? I’m in base­ment, on a tread­mill, sweat­ing. Luck­ily the mu­sic is so loud no one can hear me gasp­ing for breath. All around me are per­fectly tanned, toned women in match­ing bralets and shorts. I, on the other hand, am lum­ber­ing along in a Hard Rock tee which has stuck to my three-year-old sports bra.

So why am I, the girl who once got a taxi to the end of her road to buy more brownie mix, spend­ing my Fri­day at Barry’s Boot­camp, a high-in­ten­sity work­out favoured by celebs such as Ellie Gould­ing, the Beck­hams and Kim Kar­dashian? Be­cause, de­spite the agony, I to­tally love it. And more im­por­tantly I’m re­ally bad at it.

Do­ing some­thing be­cause you’re bad at it might sound weird, but I’ve re­alised that it can be very lib­er­at­ing. I’ve spent my whole life trying to come first – at school and then at work – and it’s a huge re­lief to stop com­pet­ing and just fo­cus on me.

Psy­chother­a­pist Sa­man­tha Car­bon ex­plains why it can be so pow­er­ful to do some­thing you don’t ex­cel at: ‘By trying new things out­side of our com­fort zone we’re ef­fec­tively ex­pand­ing that zone. Sheer grit is re­placed by an ac­cep­tance of who you are. And then, as the ben­e­fits of com­mit­ting to a new ac­tiv­ity be­gin to un­fold, you get to know parts of your­self that you may never have chal­lenged be­fore.’

I’m not the only one who’s dis­cov­ered the power of do­ing some­thing I’m not good at. Lucy, 23, from Nor­wich, told Look how tak­ing a com­puter science de­gree when she’d never writ­ten a line of code changed her whole out­look: ‘It was in­cred­i­bly hard to start with. Peo­ple on my course had a lot more ex­pe­ri­ence than

I did. Even though we were learn­ing the ba­sics, I felt like I was play­ing catch-up. But be­cause I was be­hind ev­ery­one else, I couldn’t worry about be­ing top of my class. It made me more fo­cused on my own progress.’ Chloe, 31, a char­ity worker from Lon­don, shared a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence when she took up roller derby: ‘I was used to com­pet­ing at a high level – I’d done judo for my county as a kid, and then rowed for my univer­sity. It was al­ways about win­ning. Roller derby didn’t have any of that pres­sure. I wasn’t trying to beat my pre­vi­ous per­for­mance and there wasn’t this ex­pec­ta­tion of get­ting to a re­ally high stan­dard quickly – I just fo­cused on stay­ing up­right! I wasn’t ob­sess­ing with com­pet­ing so I got to so­cialise in­stead and ended up mak­ing bril­liant friends.’

Striv­ing to be the best can be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive

So how do you make sure that start­ing some­thing you’re not tal­ented at is a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence? Sa­man­tha ex­plains it’s about the mind-set you bring to the chal­lenge. She says: ‘It’s im­por­tant to cre­ate a more ac­cu­rate per­spec­tive about your own ca­pac­ity and the task ahead. Striv­ing to be the best can be counter-pro­duc­tive.’ Be­ing the best won’t ever be an op­tion for me when it comes to boot­camp. I love wine and ba­con sand­wiches too much. But I’ve re­alised I don’t need to beat any­one to feel good about what I’m achiev­ing. As long as I keep see­ing progress within my­self, that’s good enough for me.

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