In my adolescence I was petrified to be bad at just about anything. This might have been partly due to a traumatic dance class experience when I was 5 or 6. I was thrown little girl 'tude in the dressing room by the other kids in their perfect ballerina outfits, before failing spectacularly in class (resulting in me breaking down in tears before being pulled out of class... never to return). Or maybe trying and failing to roller skate with my mom and brother... for real, I am still terrible at roller skating, its embarrassing. ha! Or maybe it was that time, in 2nd grade, I finally got the courage to play dodgeball with the other kids. Um, yeah... That ended well. I had skid marks on my face for weeks from falling head first onto the asphalt. Needless to say I went through an awkward phase. An awkwardness that I took on as part of my personality, not realizing that I am actually a freakin hoop dancing gazelle in training. ha! Ok, I digress (big surprise).
My abject fear of being bad at things caused me to be very hesitant to try anything new for most of my life, with a few exceptions. My love of horses was powerful enough to eclipse how good I thought I would do, or feared I wouldn't. Hooping came into my life when I was in a certain, ahem.. *elevated* state of mind... making anything that would serve to stop me from trying a non issue. But there have been tons of things I have wanted to try or do, but didn't. Not to mention just elusive moments I chickened out on... Thankfully, over the last couple years I have taken more chances and kind of just said, "screw it... I'm going for it anyway." And thank the gods in their heavens because I am finding out that, sucking at things is infinitely more enjoyable than NOT sucking at things. Put a different way, sucking at things in real life far supersedes the imagination of how amazing something could be. In fact, strangely enough, I have found something profoundly relaxing and peaceful about trying something new and realizing you are bad at it. Like a part of me, just heaves a big sigh and goes; "OH. I don't have to hold up the image of being a rock star at everything. cool." Let's dig a little deeper, shall we?
I might be the only person in the world that does this, but I suspect not. I think, in order to compensate for the fear of being bad at something, I developed an ability to imagine in detail how fantastic I COULD be at something. When I think of rock climbing, for example, I don't just think about me climbing up a little wall and yelling "yay!" at the top. I imagine myself on freakin american ninja warrior kicking ass. This ability to vision, while useful in some contexts, had become an illusory substitute for really actually doing the thing. How could real life POSSIBLY compare to my imagination? Again, as it seems to happen a lot these days, I realized I got it backwards. Turns out, far more suffering lies in the flat and ultimately false, vision of perfection in our heads, than in the awkward and bumpy road of real deal ACTION. When one is just imagining what life COULD be, without actually doing anything about it, there is that pervading, but small feeling of "maybe someday" which is really "maybe never".This feeling isn't necessarily sharp or obvious, like the feeling that we usually equate to suffering. But like a high pitched noise coming from an appliance, you don't even realize you got used to, till someone unplugs it. I think the painful experiences of failure as children can get stuck in our internal compass as a reason to avoid failure at all costs. Perhaps because, at that age, we don't yet know that the costs of NOT bungling through life is far greater than any asphalt to the face could ever be. The cost IS your life. Your REAL life.
We need to rewire this notion that the avoidance of failure is preferable to failure. I wish there was a required class, very early on in school, all about how normal it is to suck at things. About how it doesn't mean anything about you, other than that you are courageous enough to TRY. About how most people don't STAY sucking at things if they just keep going and don't give up. About how the joy of life doesn't actually even lie in being amazing at things, but in the simple act of DOING things you find interesting. About how one can find more bliss in the creation of a drawing, you might not even want to hang on your own wall, than all the imaginings of being the next Picasso. And most of all to instill the knowing that your REAL life lies in what you choose to DO and BE, more so than anything you can possibly imagine in your head.
**note** a healthy, positive imagination is KEY to a healthy self. I will talk more about that in another blog. But this one is more about getting in action and out of la la land ;)
As always, we are all in this together!