You’re Not the Exception

When you look at athletes or artists or anyone who’s better at anything than you are, your immediate reaction is to tell yourself you could never do the things they’re doing. You can’t even run an entire minute without having to stop to breathe, you’ll never be able to run a marathon. When you paint a landscape, your sun is still in the upper corner with a smiley face … you love to create art but who would want to buy your work?

You keep trying different things to figure out if you’re good at any of them. And you’re not. You suck at everything.

If only there was just one thing you could actually do well. Every time you try something new, you always fail … so you move on to the next thing. Maybe that will be the thing you’re good at.

You’re not the exception. You aren’t the only person who sucks.

Everyone sucks at anything when they first start. I’ve tried so many new things in my life (and sucked at them) that I know if you want to find something you’re really good at, first you have to be bad at it.

No one wakes up one morning and becomes an Olympic snowboarder. Or featured on the cover of Climbing magazine hanging off the face of El Cap. You don’t just run a marathon one day. Or paint a masterpiece. Or write the next great American novel.

It takes work. Pain. Frustration. Tears. Anger.

You’ll hate what you’re doing sometimes … maybe more often than you enjoy it. You’ll get so pissed off that it doesn’t seem worth it anymore. You’ll find excuses why you can’t or shouldn’t be doing whatever it is you’re doing. Reasons why you’re not good enough. Why it shouldn’t be you doing this.

I hate running. I even own a shirt that says “Running Sucks.” I wear it almost every time I go running. I really do hate running. It’s hard. It hurts. I know I’ll never, ever be as good as I want to be. But I keep running. Even though I have to force myself to put on my shoes and go to the gym. Even though I wake up in the middle of the night because my legs and feet hurt so bad.

I keep running.

Because despite the pain, I love the feeling of having accomplished something. Of working towards something else. Of always having another challenge to face; the next day at the gym, the next 5K or to beat my best time. Or of the marathon I’ll be running in a few months.

You can’t expect to try something new and just be good at it. And if you try something and you aren’t good at it, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be good at it. If you try rock climbing and you can’t get to the top because your hands are weak and you don’t have the strength to climb, that’s not a good enough reason to quit. You can work on your weaknesses and get better over time.

Even the people who are the best at what they do had to work hard to get to where they are now and have to keep practicing to maintain their skills. They work to perfect their art, their craft, their skill, their strength. At some point, they sucked just as much as you do right now. Even now, they still have moments when they struggle. Did you see Shaun White in Sochi?

Paint. Run. Climb.

Do whatever you want. Even if you suck. I give you permission to be really, really bad at whatever you want to do.

Now, go on with your bad self…

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