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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Jack of all trades, master of none

Four+jacks+and+two+jokers+from+a+Lane+All+Plastic+Playing+Cards+deck+on+Monday%2C+Sep.+12%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Four jacks and two jokers from a Lane All Plastic Playing Cards deck on Monday, Sep. 12, 2022.

As school resumes, we are returning to an environment that constantly reinforces the importance of comprehensive knowledge and intellectual commitment to achieve academic success. However, while productive in professional settings, it can be difficult, as students, to let go of such expectations in other aspects of life.
I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase “practice makes perfect” as a child. The academic slogan reflected off each teacher’s lips, echoing the glittery banners lining classroom walls. I am sure you felt it too, walking past the chromatic propaganda-like posters with poorly drawn children smiling down on you from each empty space on campus, surrounded by streamers and theater audition flyers. Underneath each disproportionate, inhumanly colored figurine was some piece of advice: “try your best,” “don’t forget to smile” and, worst of all, “live, laugh, love.”
As children, we are constant consumers of advice, whether it be intentional, through constructed verbal communication, or otherwise. Our identities and moral values become the summation of these adages, which we absorb like sponges, rationalize in our plastic brains and reflect out to the world after minimal post-internalization modification. That is the essence of education … and I love it.
I am a firm believer in education. It is the single, most effective tool for humans to find success, grow essential social skills and develop impermeable moral compasses. However, sometimes academic lessons, like any oral tradition, can also be misconstrued, returning me to the iconic phrase, “practice makes perfect.”
In a professional or academic setting, practice, practice, practice. Be the best you can be, strive for success and constantly challenge yourself with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Under the interrogation lights of professionalism and occupational achievement, this phrase is innocent. It holds true and aims to inspire.
However, under the settings of personal growth and exploration, repeated exposure to this ideology of future success may hinder self-satisfaction.
Let me explain.
I love learning new skills. In my free time, I play the electric guitar, study languages, thrift flip clothing items, practice photography, write articles like these and more. However, that doesn’t mean much. Whenever I share my hobbies, I am always met by a surprised stance and a “Wow you are so talented.”
However, when I say I like to “make pottery décor,” I don’t mean I throw Grecian amphoras on the weekends. I go to Target, I buy five dollars of air-dry clay, piece together a lumpy ring holder and poorly coat it with Crayola kid-friendly paint. Boom, pottery.
I do not confess any quality to my work, nor would I ever call myself a ceramics artist, but I do find immense joy from the immediate, albeit small, satisfaction of this practice. Pleasure should be the metric that inspires us to invest time, not perfection.
Many people avoid exploring new skills or opportunities because they fear incompetency. Everyone’s said or heard something to the effect of, “I have always wanted to learn how to play the piano, but I know I will suck at it.” However, that is the joy of the pursuit itself: realizing that there is only room for improvement. It is important to explore these weaknesses and celebrate the imperfection.
As we all moved onto or returned to campus last month, it felt fitting to remind the following: don’t let the fear of perfection hinder your desire to explore.
That lurking self-doubt can be an exhaustive barrier to confront, particularly in higher education. We are taught to seek perfection, as it makes us better students and better people. However, sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge that such constraints are not always beneficial outside of the classroom. Take a breather, make ugly pottery, and enjoy sucking at something.
Maya Pimentel is an EnMed student and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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