Recently, while scrolling through my Instagram account, I came across a picture of a surfer crashing hard above a wave, his body going one way, his board the other. The picture alone caught my eye, but it was the caption below the picture, “Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something New”, that really caught my attention. I had heard that phrase before, but never really gave it much thought. Perhaps it was seeing the words in print combined with the picture, but this time something was different about reading that phrase. For whatever the reason, those eight words resonated in my head all day long.
Maybe it was the state of mind I was in at that moment, maybe it was my insecurity of switching careers, maybe it was because I was dealing with some family issues, or maybe it was because I had started a new graduate school program, but my overall confidence was extremely shaky, and I was questioning my self-worth daily. Ironically, changing things up and starting over again was not anything new to me, as I had a previous career in education, worked internationally, published a book and even started my own podcast, but I had never felt so out of my element than in that moment. Nothing was clicking and nothing felt “normal.” I had mastered the art of acting like I knew what the hell I was doing, as I put on a smile, chatted “freely” with coworkers, played the part of confident person, and even closed a few sales, but I was miserable. I had become a good actor on the outside, but internally, I was an emotional wreck. I woke up daily wondering if that was the day that I was figured out to be a fraud. I internalized my negative thoughts and allowed my anxiety to get the best of me all while still trying to function and focus. To put it mildly, I was a mess.
Call it timing, call it irony, call it clarity, call it whatever you want, but I am truly convinced that scrolling on my phone and seeing that post did not happen by chance. It finally clicked to me that it was my approach to potentially sucking that I was afraid of, not necessarily change. A perfectionist at heart, I was comparing myself to others my age, comparing my bank account, comparing careers, comparing happiness and even comparing my home life. Understanding that it is indeed alright to suck at something new made me stop overthinking and instead, made me start embracing the challenges in my life. The reality is we are only in competition with ourselves to get better every day, as it should not be about comparing your story or timetable to anyone else. Often in life we play it safe at the first of insecurity and even more so, take the easy route instead of the road not taken. That is not to say there is anything wrong with taking the easier path, as I wish I were indeed wired that way, but I am not. Being brave enough to suck at something new does not necessarily imply one should start a new career, but more so, simply take a chance at something, anything, just get out of your comfort zone. Go on that trip. Take a cooking class. Talk to that stranger in the coffee shop. Write that book. Learn a new language. Go back to school. Join that gym. Whatever it is that you keep debating over, choose to do the thing that scares you the most. Quit overthinking and just live. We all suck at something new, and we all fail from time to time. Failure in inevitable, but how we respond and persevere is really all that matters. I do not claim to have all the answers, and I still suck at plenty of things. I still wake up a lot wondering if I am making the right decisions, but I am starting to learn that nothing is ever permanent, and we can always change our minds and start over again. I do believe life is for the living and chances are indeed there for the taking, even if that means we suck at something for a bit.