Let me tell you how important it is to suck at stuff.
It’s so very important to look like an idiot, to fail, to get rejected, and to do something before you’re good at it.
It’s, like, a billion important.
This past weekend I went to Piedmont Park with a couple rapper friends, and we rapped in front of strangers on the Beltline. They’d done it before; I never had.
I did it, and a handful of people stopped to watch. And my hand was shaking as if it had suddenly confused the microphone for a shake weight.
I didn’t fully have the lyrics memorized, but I rapped anyway.
Because guess what? NO ONE GIVES A SHIT.
If I stood up there with enough conviction opera singing different terms for “poop”, I’d still have gotten an audience.
Side note: It’s rather distracting to write while Emma Stone is flailing around a few sentences above.
They didn’t know what the lyrics meant. They don’t know my life story or how empowering it was for me to write the song, how it helped me process through a very challenging heartbreak. They didn’t know… And they never will know… And that’s okay.
It’s all about the energy behind it. The confidence behind it. And it’s all about JUST DOING THE DAMN THING.
Look at Jimi Hendrix. He was real good at the-what was it, a trombone?-and that’s how he’ll forever be remembered. Even when the sun inevitably eats the earth, the stars are still gonna’ be buzzing around to Foxy Lady.
But even he didn’t start out awesome.
(I mean, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But. Realistically, he had to start somewhere… And he didn’t start out as good as he ended up being.)
This was a profound realization for me, as offered to me by an aircraft detailer at work who has a rockin’ pony tail and who loves My Little Pony (we call them “bronies,” thank ya’ very much). He said that reading what I’d written inspired him to write (CUE: MY HEART MELTING BECAUSE THIS IS ALL I EVER WANTED IN LIFE), and that he was writing fiction. And that he was gonna’ have me read it when it was ready.
And then he was like, “The first few will suck, obviously. But even Jimi didn’t start out awesome.”
And my jaw dropped.
Except not literally because I keep that shit locked in order to house all my early 30’s angst via a constantly flexed jaw.
He said he learned the lesson when he was a musician. “When people see a person with an instrument, they expect them to be amazing at it. But that’s not the case. We all have to start somewhere. We all have to suck at first.”
The issue is that we have this idea of wanting to be good at something. For instance, I WANT TO BE AN AMAZING POOL PLAYER.
Except I never play pool, ever.
Because I only want to be good at it.
So… Wait. My pride is preventing me from doing a thing I want to do… simply because I won’t be an immediate rockstar?
That seems silly, no?
But that’s what I hear from most artists in business suits! “I used to want to be a writer, but I’m not any good.”
WHAT THE FUCK DOES “GOOD” EVEN MEAN.
Start whatever it is you want to start. That idea that’s been tickling your brain thoughts for days or weeks or years. Just start it.
And for chocolate’s sake, LET YOURSELF SUCK AT IT.
Giving yourself this permission and allowance will open you to a creative/intuitive flow you never ever could have found through taking classes or reading books or practicing with hyper vigilance.
And let it improve naturally, in time.
And ENJOY YOURSELF.