Joyful Mediocrity

21st April 2023

Kerri Duncan is an Adelaide based freelance writer, scientist and self-confessed below average surfer with an approach to hobbies that made us think about our time with needle and thread in a whole new light.

A recent email from Kelly Fletcher pointed us in the direction of an article she wrote titled ‘The Joy of Mediocrity: We Need Hobbies, Even if We’re Bad at Them, To Free us From Perfection’.

Kerri opened the article with a confession that whilst she’s been surfing for almost 20 years now, you wouldn’t guess it if you watched her, but she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Whilst Merriam-Webster defines a hobby as ‘a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation’, Kerri had come to realise that life had taught her otherwise. From a career in laboratory and medical sciences that allows little room for error right through to the adage that ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well’, there was an inherent expectation that ‘our precious spare time should be spent honing our skills or increasing our output as anything less would be lazy.’

This, however, meant that it was possible to turn her hobbies into a productivity race that inadvertently meant Kerri’s downtime now felt like more work time. Her solution? Reserve some activities for ‘purely imperfect pleasure’.  It’s not that she doesn’t want to put any effort into her recreational pursuits, it’s just that she’s come to realise that she doesn’t have to improve at something to enjoy it.

‘Approaching an activity without the pressure of needing to be good at it motivates me to try new things with an open mind.’

So much so in fact, that Kerri, along with a good friend, have recently agreed to try a new activity every month regardless of how well they think they’ll do at it. They’ve come to appreciate that ‘the joy is in giving it a go and relishing a fresh experience’.

We welcomed Kerri’s viewpoint and realised that whilst we’ll always strive to improve the stitches we lay, we also need to allow the time and space to simply enjoy the stitching before us. No pressure, just the uncomplicated enjoyment of losing ourselves in an activity that gives us ‘a sense of meaning and purpose, while being blissfully distracted from everyday stressors’.

Perhaps we could even commit to trying a new stitch or technique every month, committing to wholeheartedly enjoy the process even if we find ourselves below average?!

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