Efficiency be Damned

A life lesson from writing personal essays

Ria Tagulinao
5 min readMay 28, 2023
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Back when I was a dancer, the part I liked the least was learning new choreography. Of course, learning anything new always comes with some level of discomfort, but I think it’s telling that I always wished I could just skip it. (Obviously — and to my dismay — that’s not possible. Because I can’t dance a routine if I don’t learn it.)

I think about the specific things that bothered me about the process: having to deal with my slow pick-up (this is the rate at which a dancer can memorize a new choreography), moving in uncertain, imprecise ways, being unfamiliar with the musicality — and seeing all of this in the mirror.

Zooming out, my attitude makes so much sense to me now. I’ve lived most of my life glorifying speed, systems, optimization — things that make me feel that I can surely navigate a situation. I just always loved being an efficient person. Cracking how to get from point A to point B. Economizing. Minimizing the possibility of doing something again and again or starting from scratch.

And I always thought I could rely on the value of efficiency.

Then, I got into writing.

From what I’ve learned so far as a writer, there are generally two approaches to writing. The first route, as succinctly put by…



Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com