Some of the greatest insight into personal growth and self-love I’ve ever heard comes from a middle-aged man in a blue fez who paints toys on the internet.
How’s that for an opening statement? It’s totally true though. The man is Adam Loper, known online as “Uncle Atom”, and he runs the “Tabletop Minions” YouTube and Twitch channels.
“Start small, and grow slowly”
Now, Uncle Atom usually isn’t talking about life in the broader sense when he drops this knowledge. No, he hands out his wisdom in regards to making progress in the hobbies of miniature painting and YouTube video production. As of the writing of this post he has 188,000 subscribers on YouTube, and is frequently asked by members of his community how he got there and how they can more quickly grow their skills in those areas. And his answer almost never changes: start small, and grow slowly.
It’s a simple answer, really. Uncle Atom always goes on to explain to people that skills build on skills, that there’s no substitute for time –he’s been growing his channel for over seven years at this point– and that if someone can find happiness in the process they’ll appreciate their goal all the more when they finally reach it. It’s a reminder that healthy growth is gradual, and that real mastery of something comes only after we’ve put in the work to get there.
And I think that’s a beautiful way to look at not only our hobbies, but also at ourselves.
For example, how often do we beat ourselves up because we aren’t yet where we think we should be in life? Or in the things we want to accomplish? Personally, I struggle a lot with feeling like I should be more “established” in life–whatever that means– at nearly 30-years-old. It’s easy for me to get caught up in wanting more money, or more security, or more something, that I forget the absolutely massive obstacles my wife and I have overcome to get to where we are today. I let a hypothetical reality where I’m someone different, who has had totally different experiences, distract me from the wonderful, happy, life that’s right in front of me.
Along that same vein; how easy is it for us to judge, or laugh, or otherwise look down on someone else because their personal progress isn’t where we think it should be? I’m guilty of that one, too.
So, lately, I’ve been trying to enjoy the process of my life more. Instead of pining after the day when I land the job that allows the kind financial freedom I want, I work to hone my craft one percent each day so that I’m ready when that job comes along. Instead of being frustrated by the weight I put on last year, I’m working to eat like less of an overgrown 5-year-old and exercise more to get to a place where I’m more comfortable.
And I encourage you to do the same. Take a look at yourself, find the places where you’d like to improve, and then allow yourself the time and space to start small, and grow slowly.
Thanks for reading, you’ve got this,