Reflections: Could our weaknesses just be laziness?

[1 minute read] (ESL learners – click on the bolded words to see explanations and notes. Try the exercise at the bottom after! 🙂 )

Anyone who has gone anywhere with me knows that I am horrible at directions.

And I mean, completely hopeless.

I not only don’t know where to go — I usually set off in the completely wrong direction.

This is not something new to me. In elementary school I had a friend who memorized the bus route to school in just a few days. Meanwhile, I couldn’t seem to remember it no matter how many times I rode it.

To this day I struggle with directions. I learn a route to go somewhere and I have to walk the exact same way every time because veering slightly off the usual path or taking a turn earlier completely disorients me. Sometimes, I hang out with friends in the city, and they take me from one point to another in a way I’ve never gone before, and I’m astonished to realize how close the two points are to each other.

However I’m also extremely good at grasping dance moves from videos. I can understand what dancers are doing after seeing it just once or twice full-speed whereas some friends I practice with might struggle to catch on even after many rewatches.

And that struck me as surprising, because they are both spatial skills. How can I be so bad at one, and so good at the other?

A brain specialist might point out that they use different regions of the brain, and therefore I have strong neural pathways for one skill and non-existent ones for the other.

But I’d argue it also has something to do with passion. I love dancing, and therefore I have the motivation to try to comprehend what dance teachers and artists are doing. On the other hand, a sense of direction isn’t something that’s particularly important to me. It’s not like I travel to new places all that often, and when I do, I know I can always rely on Google Maps, or a less directionally challenged person who I’m with.

I mean, it would be nice to have better orientation. But I never put in the effort to actually work at this skill. I just accepted that it’s one of my weaknesses — and maybe that’s the root of the problem.

When we’re bad at something, maybe we’re really just too lazy to work at it enough to get better.

What do you think? Is there anything you’re not very good at, but think you could get better at if you cared more? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.

ESL Notes (8 words / expressions)

Definitions written with reference to Cambridge Dictionary

Set off: to start a journey or trip. (Back to the text)

Seem to: we use this to soften a message, or to imply that the person is indeed putting in effort. They could be doing their best, but they still can’t *seem to* accomplish their goal. (Back to the text)

Veer: if you veer off course, it means you change direction from where you’re supposed to go. (Back to the text)

Astonished: surprised and confused. (Back to the text)

Grasp: understand. (Back to the text)

Catch on: to understand, usually after a long time of thinking about it. (Back to the text)

Struck: if something strikes you as surprising, it means it seems surprising to you. It’s kind of like saying it “hits” you, therefore it’s impactful and something that you notice. (Back to the text)

Directionally challenged: this is not a very common expression, but it’s a more creative and funny way to say that someone is bad at directions. You can put “challenged” after other adverbs to say you’re bad at other activities too. For example, if someone is technologically challenged, it means they’re not good at using technology. In other words, this thing is a challenge for them. (Back to the text)


Want to start using these words and make sure you don’t forget them? Try this exercise! Think about these questions (discuss them with someone) or write down your answers, using the word or expression in your discussion or answer.

  • When you go on a trip, do you usually set off early in the morning to make the most of the day, or a bit later so that you don’t have to rush in the morning?
  • Is there something you can’t seem to do, no matter how hard you try? For example, some of my friends can never seem to show up to a meeting on time.
  • Have you ever experienced car problems, and had to veer off to the side of the road?
  • Describe a piece of news that you were astonished to hear recently.
  • Think about your strengths. What’s something you’re able to grasp much faster than most people you know?
  • Do you have a friend who doesn’t understand your sense of humor, and who is slow to catch on when you’re joking? Or vice versa, do you find it hard to catch on when someone of your friends are having fun with you?
  • Think of a great idea you’ve had, or a realization you made recently. Describe it using “It struck me that…” or “… struck me as [adjective]”.
  • Do you know anyone who is technologically challenged?

Feel free to try writing some more sentences, or a text, of your own to practice some more.

Thank you for reading! These ESL notes, links and exercises each take several hours to make, so if you found this useful, the kindest thing you can do is to like the post, leave a comment, or share with anyone who needs it. Have questions about any other words? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to reply!

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