Once again…and those of you who know me well know how many times I’ve attempted this and basically failed…I’m going through papers and folders and books and stacks and everything trying to scale down and simplify and throw away the countless caca that I have accumulated over the years. I’ve thrown away much in the past, but somehow what’s left has had babies and here I go again… I often feel that I SUCK at being able to keep an organized, uncluttered, non-messy house.
In my gatherings, I found a notebook of artsy stuff and writings and found this written on one of the first pages…”everyone sucks before they get kinda good at something”.
I don’t know who originally said it or where I saw it, but apparently I had the presence of mind to write it down in an artful-ish way.
I know there are some things that I excel at, but I also know there are many things I suck at (see above).
We all suck at something. But I hope at least it’s at something we enjoy doing. Sucking at something we hate is just torture, isn’t it? But sucking at something we enjoy at least gives us something to aspire to and get better at.
You know, when we fail at something, it does something to us mentally. It cripples us, to some degree. We assume that it’s just evidence of who we really are. “I failed, therefore I am a failure.”
For instance, maybe you asked a friend to lunch and they reject you…”I’m not good enough.”
We attempt to do some new thing at work and either it doesn’t work or doesn’t get the recognition we think it should…”I’m not a good employee.”
We try to learn some new skill and for some reason, we just can’t get the hang of it…”I’m clumsy and wasting my time.”
It’s a whole lot easier to stick with things that we are kinda good at, or with things that won’t embarrass us…right?
What’s wrong with failing? Why are we so darned afraid to fail?
Confucius say, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”
You didn’t make the team.
You didn’t get the part in the play.
You lost the big account.
You didn’t get the publishing deal.
You burned the brownies you made for your boyfriend.
The dishes are still dirty from…two days ago.
You washed a load of white clothes with something red.
The business you started went belly-up.
Fill in the blank. Fail, fail, fail.
You find yourself feeling embarrassed, confused, disappointed.
There’s not much worse than finding out that you’re not good enough, that you’re inferior, that you’re inadequate. But on the flip side, falling short and failing at something makes us realize that we need to improve. That’s all. Failure teaches us more about ourselves than probably any success we’ll ever have. It teaches us what we need to work on, where our weaknesses are…what went wrong and what went right and what to do differently next time.
We are so afraid of failing at something that often we just avoid it altogether. But there’s GOT to be something you’d love to do SO MUCH that you will risk failing at it just so you can do it.
My memory fades with my age, but I do remember early on in my life, when I was learning to play the piano, I wanted so badly to play the pop songs I was hearing on the radio. But I wasn’t good enough. I was taking lessons from a wonderful teacher, but it was simply the basics…and I’d learned it and was ready to move on.
So, in the front room of our house, I sat at the piano, which was conveniently positioned right next to our record player, I would put my favorite albums on to play, or I would turn the radio on to my favorite station, and I would work, and work, and work, and work on matching what I heard until I finally got it.
I guarantee I sucked when I first started. I’m sure my parents were sitting in the living room with something covering their ears while I was practicing.
If I had looked at those beginning days as a failure…”I’ll NEVER be able to play like I want to!!!”…I would have given up. I would have labeled myself as a failure at playing the songs I so longed to learn. But I loved playing the piano so much that I kept working on it until I mastered it.
Do you look at someone you admire, that is a master at some particular craft or ability, and wish that you could be that or do that? We look at that “end result”…that mastery…that perfection. But we conveniently forget that when they started, they sucked at it! Ok, I’m sure there are a few that were perfection incarnate when they first put their hand to their craft, but not many!
These “perfect masters” became “perfect masters” because they enjoyed doing that thing so much that, even though they sucked at it in the beginning, they worked, and worked, and worked, and worked, until they moved from “sucking” to “slightly less sucky” to “not terrible” to “pretty okay” to eventually “dang, I’m getting good at this!”
Good news about being absolutely sucky at something…I can only get better at it. And every little improvement proves to me that I CAN and I WILL get better…if I don’t quit.
Life is short, y’all. We all know that. And if we don’t spend time doing things we enjoy for part of our time, we’ll be miserable. We need to take a little time each day to spend time on the things we love doing. After all, if we are spending some time doing something we enjoy (no matter how bad we suck at it), we are making our lives better…and we’re far more likely to improve at that thing.
So here’s my encouragement…
Find something you enjoy, that you know you suck at, and just start doing it. The important thing is to get started and be okay with sucking at it. Pick something that you’ve always wanted to do but have been afraid to try.
Do you like cooking? Then make a bad meal TODAY!
Like drawing? Draw a really horrible stick person TONIGHT!
Wish you could dance? Then go dance around your living room like a crazy person IMMEDIATELY!
Want to get stronger? Do one awkward, weak pushup RIGHT NOW!
Always wanted to learn to play an instrument? Then warn your family and play that thing!
Want to write a book? Then write one paragraph of something before the day is over, even if it’s the silliest thing ever.
Then do it a little each and every day. No matter how much you suck at it right now, or how bad you still are in another month, at least you’ve picked something challenging that you enjoy…and you ARE getting better. But, hey…even if you don’t improve, at least you’ve spent some time having fun.