Be Really Good

What it means to be really good in your life and work.

A grey hoodie illustration with the words Be Really Good on it.

My favorite sweatshirt is a grey hoodie I got from the Really Good Emails team for filling in with an impromptu talk at UNSPAM 2020.

It was literally right before everything started shutting down in the US due to the pandemic. My last restaurant meal for over a year was with my friend Chad S. White down at UNSPAM, but I digress…

The hoodie is pretty simple. It’s a soft, grey pullover. I’ve only had it for a year and change and it’s already falling apart from use. The bottom stitching has a few holes from where my spare tire adds some extra stress and the hoodie ties are frayed from me chewing on the ends. It’s ridiculously comfy.

But my favorite part is that it has “Be Really Good” in huge letters across the front. While “Be Really Good” is right in line with the name “Really Good Emails,” I’ve taken it to mean a lot of other things over the last year or so. Any time I put it on, I can’t help but think about what it means to be really good. I usually think about some variation of the following when donning my favorite article of clothing:

  • You should be really good at what you do. Practice your craft and apply your skills well.
  • You should be a really good person. Practice patience, kindness, and empathy.
  • You should be a force for good in your community. Get involved and care about others.

More recently, though, that phrase has made me question whether or not I am being really good. Is my work up to the standards I profess to others? Am I being as patient and kind as I can? Am I actually using my skills, time, and energy to be a force for good in the world?

I’d like to be able to answer yes to all three of those questions, but a lot of times it doesn’t feel like I can. Sometimes I feel too tired to invest time and energy into anything other than my farm in Stardew Valley. Sometimes I know that I’m just pushing out work to get it done so that I can move onto the next project. Sometimes I’m just too angry about the world to muster up any semblance of patience or empathy. I feel like I’m the farthest thing away from really good.

I doubt I’m alone. I know that you feel that way a lot of the time, too.

But it’s helpful to keep reminders like a good hoodie around to get us back on track. I think that’s why it’s almost always somewhere in my office, ready to pull on and pull me out of whatever funk I find myself in.

Let this post be your reminder to be really good. Practice your skills, apply them to work worth doing, and be patient and kind to others. But remember that it’s OK to falter and feel like you’re not really good. You probably are, you’re just in a temporary funk. So go grab your comfiest clothes, grab a quick nap or your favorite drink, and cut yourself a little slack. You’ll be back to really good in no time.

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