Ouch (On Being Bad)

It’s been a while since I’ve been bad at something.

Normally, when interviewing for jobs or discussing things that I want to try out, I usually boast that I can learn most things after watching it once or twice. That’s how I learned felting. That’s how I learned karate. That’s how I’ve picked up on sketching techniques, so long as I’ve been focused.

Don’t get me wrong, that has not meant that I’ve mastered these things after once or twice, but I can at least pass.

Right now, I’m learning to play the ukulele.

My fingers hurt.

I’m stumbling over the inch between a C and a C7.

I can’t strum. I’ve even bought felt picks so I can focus on the chords (which I’m not good at — see prior point).

I want to play because I know I can sing. Now there’s something I can do. I’ve always been able to sing, through no real effort other than maybe some choir practice when I was a kiddo. It just comes out of me. But this? It’s really damn hard, guys.

I’m not giving up, but it’s hard to keep from getting discouraged when you see something that you think you should be able to do but can’t. Why is that? Why are we always afraid of being bad at something? It’s not like I’ve signed up for a one-person uke tour or anything. The only people who have heard me play are my dad and my husband. And yet every time I pick Lilo up (yes, I named it) I’m like, “Okay, I’m ready to be perfect.”

Slowly, I’m trying to learn to let go of that.

You’re never going to be perfect starting out. Sometimes you’ll feel good. Sometimes you’ll feel like you can see how it will eventually be something really awesome. And sometimes, your fingers will hurt. It’s just a part of the process.

What’s the last thing you tried that you wanted to be good at? How have you overcome the discouragement? I’d love to hear about it!

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