learning = sucking

've noticed a trend in the comments section of online publications and social media, including my own blog's comment section.  I see people say stuff like, "That's cool!  Too bad I suck at [XYZ], I wish I could do that!"  "Sounds good!  Too bad I'm a terrible cook!"  "I wish I was good at that!  I'd love to do it!"

Here's the thing, you guys.  You don't pop out of the womb knowing how to do stuff.  You don't know how to do anything, really, out of the womb.  Everything you know how to do, you've learned.  And you probably sucked at it for a while.  When we were kids, we sucked at a lot of things because we were constantly learning, but for some reason when you're a kid sucking at stuff doesn't bother you so much.  Maybe it's because we're surrounded by other kids who are also sucking at stuff because they're also learning.  But now that we're adults someone told us (or we got the message somehow) that it's not cool to suck at things anymore.  You have to be good at stuff or not do it at all because, apparently, not being good at stuff is embarrassing.  The problem is, if we are afraid of being bad at things, we'll never do anything new or learn a new skill.    I didn't know how to french braid until I was in my mid twenties.  I would just say, "Oh I can't french braid, I'm terrible at it" until one day I decided I wanted to do it.  And I sucked at it.  It was a sad sad little french braid, but it was one baby step in the direction towards being able to do it well.  I still am pretty bad at french braiding, but the only thing standing in my way to being great at it is lots and lots of practice.

Sure, there are people who are talented at certain things.  They pick them up quickly and are faster learners, but talent can only take you so far.  Talent can give you a jump start on something, but the truth is, talent is nothing without work.  You can be the most talented pianist in the world, but if you don't practice hard and practice often, you'll never be a concert pianist performing in Carnegie Hall.

What if we all stopped saying, "oh I can't do that" or "I'm bad at that", "I'm no good at it," as if we were blaming some force in the ether keeping us from doing stuff we want to do, and decided to start trying the things we want to do or be good at?  What if we stopped being afraid of looking dumb or being bad at stuff?  What are we so afraid of anyway?  Are we afraid of looking stupid in front of other people?  Because if someone is going to make you feel bad for trying something new and not being a pro at it your first 20 times, you probably shouldn't care about them anyway.  The only way to stop being bad at something is to do it until you're not bad at it anymore.  Terrible cook?  Stop eating out all the time and start cooking every day.  Look up youtube tutorials.  Buy cookbooks.  We live in an age when you can find tutorials for almost everything online.  It's crazy!  The people who do know how to do stuff are actively sharing how-to articles and videos with the world online so that other people can also learn how to do stuff.  It's kind of amazing.

Let's stop quitting before starting.  Let's stop self sabotaging our dreams and goals.  Allow yourself to be bad at things in the pursuit of getting better at them.  We often see people doing amazing things, forgetting all the hard work and ugliness that it took to get to that point.  You don't see the rehearsals, the practice, the failed projects, but they are what allowed that person to get to where they are today.  We never see the clothing designs that get discarded by fashion designers, we don't see the diy projects that ended up in the trash, we don't see home tours where the person didn't clean the house before photographing it.  So here's one.  Here's my house, in iPhone photos, on the fly, with no cleaning.    I actually went on a house cleaning spree the day before these photos were taken (unintentionally, I didn't clean because I planned on taking these photos, I just caught the bug.  You should've seen my office before I cleaned, I took a 3x3ft box of trash out of there, ugh).
Our bed is never made.  We have a comforter wadded up on the floor by the bed for Dusty because I keep saying I'm going to sew her a dog bed, but my office was too messy to try sewing anything in there and I'd broken my last sewing machine needle.  My cute rolling island in the kitchen has just become a catch-all for random crap.  The living room has piles of stuff everywhere.  Some piles are take-to-the-thrift-store piles, others are farmers market stuff I'm storing until the next week's market, and others are piles of Dan's work junk. I actually cleaned our closet the other day too, so it's looking okay, but I can't get over the godawful brown carpet in there and can't wait to rip it out and replace it with wood floors.  In the meantime I have rugs trying to hide it.  Sometimes my house does look like it does in my home decor posts, but not always.  Not the majority of the time.  I wish it did because it's so much more refreshing to come home to a house that is clean and looks nice, but that's just not the reality.
Don't let the fear of not being perfect keep you from trying the things you want to do.  I have to remind myself of this all the time.  Sometimes sucking at stuff can feel like a complete waste of time.  Like, dammit, I just spent 4 hours on that DIY I was going to post on the blog, now all that time is wasted!  Maybe so, but at least I know now that I did it wrong and the next time I try it might be a better technique. And even if it was a failed DIY, at least I was spending those hours creating and working with my hands, which, for me, feeds my soul.  
Some people are also just good at things naturally, but don't let that keep you from working for what you want.  Just because someone else has a natural talent for cooking doesn't mean you'll never be a great cook.  Just because someone is an amazing artist naturally doesn't mean you can never make a great craft project.  It might take longer.  It might not look amazing the first time.  That's okay.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  Keep sucking.  It'll come.