Do it badly

2018-07-02
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Today is Blue Monday. Hashtag, etc. Not just a Monday, which Twitter and Garfield tell us is bad anyway, but a Blue one. Which is the most depressing colour, as everyone knows.

Blue Monday is meant to be the day in the year when people are their saddest. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are distant memories, there’s still more than a week until payday, and we’ve been doing Dry January/ Veganuary/ going to the gym. It’s the most rubbish day, it’s been scientifically calculated.

How to calculate how sad the general public is, I don’t know. I do know that Blue Monday is a marketing gimmick from 2005, where a holiday company looked for ways to boost revenue during a time of the year when many people are avoiding spending money. “A wee treat,” they said, “a wee jaunt somewhere warm. You must. It’s the only way to avoid The Sads on this, the Bluest of Mondays.”

I am willing to give a little credence to the idea that people need a pick-me-up, though, as around 43% of resolutions have already been abandoned. The sense of failure that comes from not immediately and successfully changing everything about yourself as a person through sheer willpower can feel heavy.

My own suggestion is this: do something badly.

In 2017, on a very long journey back from Portugal, I picked up some knitting needles and a skein of yarn. Using YouTube, I taught myself to cast on and knit garter stitch. By the time we reached Scotland I had made a scarf.

It was too short to be of any use to anybody, knotty where I’d dropped stitches, but I still have it. I love it. It’s something I made with my own two hands for no reason other than because I wanted to.

Since then I have learnt to knit stockinette and seed stitch. I can cable. I can knit in the round, I can colour change for stripes. I know what the abbreviations ssk and wyif mean. The things I make are still very rustic and they are often too big or too small for their recipient. Who cares!

I knit while listening to podcasts and audiobooks, or when we’ve got the TV on in the evening. It saves constant scrolling on my phone just for something to do with my hands, and it’s satisfying. There’s just enough problem solving required to keep it interesting, and it’s insanely low risk.

I also like to bake, run, swim, cycle, sing. My skills range from wouldn’t-buy-it-in-a-shop to oh-god-make-it-stop. That doesn’t matter. Being rubbish at something should not be a deterrent to doing it.

Being creative makes me feel like I did something worthwhile with my day. Making something tangible is satisfying in a way that makes me feel warm inside. I’m delighted every time I get sent a picture of a baby wearing one of my wonky hats, or when my husband puts on the scarf that’s so long he has to wrap it round thrice.

I don’t really get Mondays. I’m self-employed, I work from home, I spend every day with my kid. But just as importantly, I take joy in doing something creative, even if I’m doing it terribly.

We don’t all need to be the best at everything. You’re not half a person if you aren’t good at dressmaking after trying it once. A resolution is nothing but a promise to yourself, and you’re allowed to make that promise over and over, or change it. Do what makes you feel good.

On this #BlueMonday, pick up a paintbrush, whisk that aquafaba, dance. Nobody’s watching.


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