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Being Bad at Bowling

Sometimes, when I’m watching a baking show with my roommate or a cooking show with my dad, I’ll watch the contestants run around the kitchen and think, sure, I could probably make something like that.

Or when I’m watching Jeopardy! with my partner and someone completely misses what I think is the simplest clue in the history of easy, obvious, common knowledge clues, and I find myself in shock that the show hasn’t come begging me to be a contestant.

Or when I’m editing a piece of writing and am floored by mistakes and errors, knowing that surely I, the flawless scribe, could have written it in a more concise and poetic way.

But then I remember when I went bowling.

Last summer, some friends and I went out to do an activity I hadn’t thought about in at least a decade. But I wasn’t worried. I was pretty sure I was hitting turkeys left and right last time I played Wii Bowling.

Real bowling is not Wii Bowling.

Especially when they don’t give you bumpers.

I slugged my way through several games, watching as multiple people outscored me by at least 100 points.

Once you get past the forever awkward turnaround where—after throwing two more gutter balls—you have to walk back to your friends’ obligatory, if not inaccurate, encouragement (you were closer that time!), bowling is actually quite fun.

But more than that, it’s a reminder that what we see on our screens or what we experience from the outside is not always the reality of what would happen should you be in the driver’s seat.

And perhaps the most healing and holistic thing we can do from where we are sitting is put our belief behind the idea that everyone is doing their best—whether on the Great British Bakeoff, Jeopardy!, or at a bowling alley in Western Pennsylvania.

It must be hard to watch me throw the ball into the gutter 9 times in a row. (Harder still to keep encouraging that, I’d imagine.) It must seem so comically bad that it almost feels like a bit. But I can sincerely say I was trying.

So when you find yourself observing someone or something that feels bad or silly or not up to your standards… when you find yourself frustrated that someone isn’t handling something the pristine and perfect way that you would… when you find yourself annoyed that not everyone has your expertise and skills… pause for a moment and let yourself believe that they are doing their absolute best.

And then do your absolute best.

Because at the end of the day, that’s the only person you have accountability for.

And sometimes, things aren’t as simple as they seem.


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