I used to Cube literally all the time. I had one everywhere I went, and I even had the privilege of competing in CubingUSA Nationals. But when COVID-19 hit and all the competitions were canceled, I mostly stopped practicing, and my cubes retreated to my desk drawer.
But recently, my interest in cubing has returned. On the day of my PSAT test, I brought a megaminx with me to the testing location, as a way to calm my nerves before the test. This is similar to what I did when I played basketball. I always brought a few cubes to tournaments with me and I would fidget with them in between games, once again, as a way to keep my nerves at bay.
Ever since then, and much to my teachers' dismay, I have been bringing a cube to school. The cube gives me an outlet for frequent boredom, distracts me enough to keep any stress or anxiety from negatively impacting me too much, and is a GREAT conversation starter. The cube has started more conversations than anything else I can do or wear at school, there is something about a popular little puzzle that captures the attention of many. I usually do not talk in some of my classes, but the cube has allowed me connect with and talk to other people that I normally would not have had the chance to.
This is all great, until you break a cube. I was walking down the hall with my favorite cube, a 4x4, and I dropped it, and one of it's corner pieces exploded into pieces. I was absolutely heart-broken. Thankfully, no pieces were stepped on, and no magnets were lost, but the plastic is discolored and it bulges out. The cube also remains completely functional, but has an ugly scar. I am still very sad about this scar.
This really discourages me from bringing another cube to school. But I also realize how beneficial bringing them has been for me and my well-being. I will continue bringing them for the next few weeks and see how things go, but I worry the anxiety of me dropping another cube and it exploding, or the anxiety of the cube getting crushed in my bag is a grandiose deterrent.
I am bilingual! I am fluent in English and Spanish, English being my Native Language (NL) and Spanish being my Second Language (L2). It is also important to note that being fluent does not mean I speak perfect Spanish or that it does not need improvement. I do not have the comprehension or fluidity that most native-speakers, and some second-language speakers have.
At the beginning of the year, one of my main goals was to improve my Spanish to the level of a native-speaker, obviously a naive goal. Nevertheless, it was one that I was striving for, and I believe it is important to set high goals, because even if you do not hit them, you'll probably hit something. I think Norman Vincent Peale brilliantly encapsulates this idea in a simple saying: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.". I digress.
In this pursuit of fluency and ability akin to that of a native speaker, I got burnt out. That is okay. Burning out has happened to me a LOT, in a LOT of my hobbies. And if we're being honest, it has happened to me in every hobby, sport, and endeavor that I've embarked on. I was convinced for the longest time that getting burnt out was not okay, and it showed weakness on my part. I still fight this feeling whenever I think about my old hobbies or something I did not achieve. When I went to Nationals for Cubing I did not do as well as I wanted, and I felt immense guilt about it. That guilt drove me to stop Cubing.
A lot can be said about that. You certainly do not have to be a psychologist or therapist to realize that this repeated behavior was unhealthy. I am now realizing that. Slowly, but surely. Realizing failure and not achieving every goal you set is not a bad thing, but room and opportunity for growth.
Anyways, as I was improving my Spanish, my results started to become stagnant, and I was getting bored. I lost most of my motivation. I stopped reading books and watching shows. I really stopped interacting with the language, and began to resent it somewhat. Which is silly.
But recently, I have been able to use my Spanish to help another person, I'm not doing anything extraordinary, I'm simply talking to them in Spanish. I'm being purposefully vague, out of respect for this persons privacy and my own. Regardless, it has made me feel really good. And has inspired me to get back into the swing of things when it comes to improving my Spanish.
I have a bad habit. I take hobbies I enjoy, push them to their extreme, and then start to hate them. Running has been the single most repeatedly resented hobby of mine. Partly due to the Cross Country and Track seasons. I like to think that I am naturally decent at running, and it is something that I enjoy and that I can enjoy running just for the sake of running, not having any external goals. But when I am in the middle of a sports season, running becomes my world, and everything about my life will revolve around it. This year, I have had a few difficulties with my season, and it has really upset me and negatively impacted many parts of my life. I have been faced with a few situations that I have never encountered before, and it has been the single biggest source of my anxiety this year. And although I do not have a magical solution to this problem, I am starting to see the pattern, and hopefully I can rekindle my love for running after all this is over.
These 3 hobbies have been some of the most influential in my life, and they have all taught me many valuable lessons and guided me as a person more than I ever would have imagined when I started them. But somehow, at some point, I stopped loving them, I began to resent them, I began to feel guilt and remorse for what I did or did not do. I think I am learning to let it go. I was really hesitant to post this, worried about what if a classmate or future employer sees this. But through writing this and through a lot of self reflection. I think I may be starting to realize that it is okay, just to be okay. Not to be the best or perfect at something, just to enjoy doing something for the sake of doing it. Which is honestly something I struggle to understand. I do not often do things that do not have tangible, feasible results or benefits. But perhaps there is a certain beauty in doing things that have no purpose or benefits or results, just to do them.
- Ethan Carter Edwards