Graphics by Amy Hoang
March 28, 2024

Try again! Don’t stop now! I often find myself resistant to repetition. I’ve always been combative against repetitive tasks as I had no patience with myself. As a cellist, I found myself unwilling to practice on the cello, even though I know that the only way to improve at producing the sounds that I like is to practice. I hated practicing because it always exposed my shortcomings, and I always sounded bad to myself. So I never really took it seriously.

Now think about how good I would be at the cello if I just had consistent practice. I haven’t been able to hold myself accountable, and part of me thinks that it’s because I don’t want to be good at the cello. Because if I were very good at it, people would expect more of me, and I would be pressured into performing or playing when I don’t want to. Conversely, if I don’t practice, and stay mediocre, that means that I wouldn’t be expected to play at a certain level, nor will people expect me to perform well. And somehow that alleviates stress, as my brain would interpret that as a way to escape. I found that this escapist mindset was more detrimental to myself than I could ever imagine.

Without expectations, I became complacent. My passion for learning faded away quickly. I was content in lounging around all day and slowly but surely I became unable to focus on creating happy thoughts. As I became unable to take action on my passion for arts and crafts, I sank into a deep state of depression. I became emotionally unstable and hurt the people I love and myself. I found that the detriment of having no expectations of myself was that: the weight of self-deprecation will put out the flame of passion, and the weight of disappointment will crush the soul. I was a flame waning in the brisk breeze, and found myself cowering before the thought of being productive. As time passed, many people also came and went. Among them were talented, smart, and hard-working individuals who always put me to shame. I felt powerless in the struggle against myself. I could no longer stomach my own incompetence. So I stopped putting on an act, as if I was better than I truly was. In my frustration, I found that refusing to accept my shortcomings was the greatest roadblock to my development as a person. I have to acknowledge my weaknesses, and by continuously doing so I gain insight into my strengths as well.

My uncle once told me “If you don’t like doing something, it’s probably because you’re not good at it.” And the old proverb says, “Practice makes perfect.” For anything to stick, practice is crucial. Leaning into your passion and strengths, to seek further improvement is no small task. As I started my student career at UW, I took a liking to boxing. I felt the pent-up anger toward myself dissipate in every impact. The glove, the pad, even when I was taking hits. I felt relief in finding myself gasping for breath. I found the adrenaline rush that I had previously lost. Practicing boxing, finding the rhythm, and staying on my feet helped me develop better health. After a month of lessons and consistent practice, I could feel myself getting less tired after a full day of studying. I learned that practicing with proper conditioning can only bring benefits. Patience will pay off.

So now I’ve taken time to practice boxing, coding, and reading scholarly articles. I need to cultivate patience with the things that I’m not good at so that I can see my growth, and further sharpen my skills with all the things that I regret not being good at. The expectations that came with qualification are no longer an issue. Because I now recognize the issues that accompany laziness and incompetence will cause more harm down the road.

So I have to do it again. I have to keep up my practice and hold myself accountable for choosing to be lazy, willingly letting opportunities slip. The irrational fear of failure still plagues me, as the habit of self-destruction is not easily curbed. To combat this, I recently fell into a craze for bossa nova. Bossa nova is such a relaxing and uplifting genre of music that I became infatuated with Lisa Ono and Antonio Carlos Jobim. I kept trying new and unexplored music, and that led me to discover a new world of happiness that I previously didn’t think I could achieve.

So, try again! If you fail at something, then it’s a sign that you can be better! If you cease to seek improvement, you will only stand in your own way. You create your own destiny, if you don’t take that chance and commit to the bit, you will only find disappointment at the end of your journey. And it will be a soul-crushing defeat, I can guarantee that. But this all won’t come to be if you don’t start. So start now, don’t waste time. If you fail, just try again! You never know what variety of splendid people and things you will encounter on the way, and once you see your improvement, you won’t want to stop. So try again!

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