The other day I got lost in the alternate universe that is Pinterest. Sweet crafty, do-it-myself Pinterest goodness. ( What a daydream that website is.) I spent roughly three hours trying not to get ahead of myself and my paycheque (and my tiny space-at-a-premium-apartment) while prioritizing the things that I liked, loved and would die without (though not literally of course.)
In my Google Drive I have a folder titled “Crafty Ish I Wanna Do” . Each and every time I go browsing in the virtual aisles of Pinterest, I get excited and think “oh goody. I can do that.” At last count, there were over 300 “easy-DIY” projects just waiting for me to start- and likely never finish. There are dozens of necklaces and rings and buttons and pins and t-shirts; there are paintings and fabric wall-art-thingys and doilies and diaries…the list is seemingly endless. I’m sure that next week, if and when I fall back into the seed-beady underworld that is the internet craft fair, this number will skyrocket again and I’ll have even more dreams of duct-tape-feathered earrings and glittery- beaded t-shirt mods that may or may not end up with me finding second-degree burns from the small glue gun I own in places that are rather concerning.
And then I wake up, and I realize that I only wish I was crafty.
That’s actually not entirely fair. Truthfully, I’m very crafty, I’m just not very good at being crafty (outside of the occasional cross-stitch.) This is mostly because I have so many ideas and thoughts and plans about all of the exciting things to make for myself and other people that I take up something new and then follow that trail, leaving a sad pile of scraps in my wake. The problem, you see, is that I am so rarely focused on only one type of crafty-thing long enough to develop any sort of mastery that I can do a little bit of lots of things, but nothing (in this context at least) particularly well.
We know that mastery is a core component of engagement, and identity development. If we have the ability to develop and refine the skills to do something positive, then we are more likely to understand and appreciate our own capacity, ultimately helping us define who and what we are in relation to others. If we can accomplish something and be proud of what we have completed or created, we can find a sense of worth internally, which further develops our resilience and our ability to make better decisions.
Young people who have a chance to develop mastery; young people who have a chance to learn and practice and fail with support until they get it right…those young people often have stronger identities, which leads to better, healthier outcomes. When given the chance to get good at something, youth have a better chance of getting through their teenage years a little more intact.
For so many, the answer to keeping young people out of all that is perceived as trouble, is to stick them into a sport. For many this tactic works. For me it did (for the most part.) But it doesn’t work for us all. Sometimes we have to get creative (crafty, if I may) and find alternatives to the traditional athletic-type programming that exists. This means that we have to work with the youth in our youth centres and our programs, and our classrooms to find something that they can get interested in, try, fail, learn and repeat until they develop that sense of mastery. Music, yoga, baking, beading, sewing, painting, picking and arranging flowers, reading, photography, poetry…there are so many things that young people can do, that are easy for us to plan and encourage. The best part is, we ourselves as adult supports do not have to be good at these things. We can either outsource the skill set, or even better, try and fail with them. It’s easier for youth to learn and be comfortable with making mistakes, if we make them together.
This isn’t to say that taking a young person who is struggling and having them conquer some kind of task is going to magically make all of these struggles and theor pain go away. This is to say however that mastery is an important part of our development as people and can go a long way (especially when combined with connection to positive and supportive adults and peers, a feeling of belonging, generosity and altruism and the development of independence) to creating strong, resilient young people.
Next time you’re in the market for some programming ideas, I would invite you to take a trip down the Pinterest lane. Just make sure you leave a trail of breadcrumbs so you can find your way back to earth safely.