I don’t like being bad at stuff. I know. NOBODY likes being bad at something, but I really don’t like being bad at things. I get frustrated very easily. At the first sign of a roadblock, I start questioning the value of the journey and start considering the possibility of abandoning the endeavor.
We all have self-sabotaging behaviors we have to work through. A big one for me is my tendency to be highly self-critical. Years of listening to the mean girl in my head have lead me to believe I inherently suck of everything. (This post was partly inspired by Christine Hassler's excellent coaching podcast "Over It And on With it", in particular here Coaches Corner episode "Mastering Your Mean Girl or Bad Boy with Melissa Ambrosini.) You might think that sounds a little extreme, but well folks that just the level of self-criticism we’re dealing with here.
I write all this so that perhaps you may gain some insight into why any perceived setback or struggle can be so derailing. As you may imagine, trying new things while operating within this modality is not ideal.
Whether it be learning to play basketball or learning to code, everyone starts off as a novice. Yes, some people display an inherent ability and pick up certain skills quicker than others but that doesn’t mean just because you aren’t “naturally” good at something you should just give up.
When learning a new skill or picking up a new project, you have to be able to come to terms with the fact that you are probably going to SUCK for a while. This is something that has been on my mind as of late as I dip my toes in new waters in various areas of my life.
*Muay Thai- I’ve only sparred twice and when I say I have no defense I mean I HAVE NO DEFENSE. I am still getting used to getting hit in the face, can’t say it is something I have much experience with. After serving as little more than a human punching bag for my training partners I began to question whether I should continue. I honestly can’t tell you all how many times I have wanted to quit training, basically anytime I have encountered some aspect of training that has been especially challenging. I’m not particularly athletic, or flexible, or strong and I didn’t grow up participating in sports. I can however control my level of commitment and dedication to learning and growing as Muay Thai practitioner. I don’t what MT to just be another thing I quit.
*Writing- In 2016 not only did I start Muay Thai but I started to actively pursue my passion for writing. I started this very blog while also working as freelance writer. And just like Muay Thai, while I love writing I still experience performance anxiety. Because again, putting my writing out in the world for all to see still feels very much new to me. I worry about not being a good writer. I worry that nobody will like anything I write. I worry I will run out of words and miss deadlines. These worries translate into a very anxious writing process that often results in high levels of procrastination. The truth is I’m still figuring out what exactly works for me. I don’t know what my ideal writing process looks like. The only way to develop it is to keep writing.
*Design- The belief that it will take an eternity before I can become even a mediocre designer has prevented me from even truly exploring design despite the strong calling I feel towards it. I get so upset with myself for not actively working on acquiring design skills that just writing about it is uncomfortable. How can I get good at something if I don’t even try? If I believe it is going to take a long time shouldn’t I start like now? Crazy how we operate in contradiction to our own fear based beliefs.
It’s a time of transition. It’s a time of learning. It’s a time of stepping into the unknown. And yes it’s an intimidating and challenging time in my life. I can’t expect to be a complete fighter, writer, or designer after day 1 or even after year 1. I have to accept that it is going to be a while before I have any clue what the fuck I’m doing. I the mean time I am certain I will have embarrassing rounds in the ring; I’ll deal with writer’s block, and I’ll design an ugly graphic or two. Just like everything else, I am slowly learning to ENJOY the challenge and not be put off by it. Growth is in the journey not the destination right?