- This blog post was written by Sarah Lundgren. -
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” - Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
During my first ten years of life, I wanted to be a dancer, a singer, an actress on broadway and *NSYNC’s choreographer.
Needless to say, I was committed to my art.
That doesn’t mean that I was actually good at any of them. I’ve never been able to sing well. My short-lived acting career started and ended by playing one of Cruella de Vil’s lackeys in my elementary school’s rendition of 101 Dalmatians. *NSYNC, though I will never stop wishing for a reunion tour, went on "hiatus," and my life as a dancer more or less ended shortly after this half angelic, half creepy picture was taken:
But when I was young, it really didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t good at any of these things. It wasn’t until I started getting older that I started policing what I did so that people would only see what I was good at.
I recognize that if any of the seven girls I live with are reading this, they’re probably saying something along the lines of “Sarah, you buffoon, you sing all of the time and it’s emotionally scarring to all of us.” To which I say — you aren’t wrong, but let’s digress.
The truth is, being hesitant about doing things out of fear of being bad at them is only natural; making a fool out of oneself goes against human nature. In the age of social media, it can feel like you are always performing for others, constantly posting about all of the wonderful things that you are doing and the talents that you have. It's exhausting, because while you're always watching others performances, you gain the false notion that everyone but you has it together. And if it seems like everyone else is doing all of these amazing things, is there really a reason to keep trying at something when you have no inclination to it?
I’m here to tell you that there definitely is a reason.
Dance even if you have no rhythm. Put on a full blown concert every time you’re driving in the car, cleaning your room or doing the dishes. Take the moments that you feel like you can’t describe and try to put them into words. Life is too short to not make it fulfilling, to not push the envelope, to not do what you truly like doing.
It’s time to allow yourself to create something, not just create something good. Make something you are proud of, be genuine in your sense of humor, put on Lemonade and perform as though Jay Z has wronged you. You owe it to yourself. It’s not your responsibility to make sure that what you do is highly regarded by everyone.
Let’s squash the notion that you have to be good at something to do it. You don’t. If you don’t believe me, ask any of the girls I live with — they will assure you that me being tone-deaf has never stopped me from singing.
It shouldn’t stop you either.
Supported by a Robert E. Bryan Fellowship from the APPLES Service-Learning Program, an offering of the Carolina Center for Public Service at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.