I need an outlet. I need a fun activity, and it’s all right if I’m no good at it.
It’s important for me to be a good mom, wife, teacher, and friend. I’m prepared to suck at everything else. And I do.
Here’s my thesis: Don’t be afraid to try something new and suck at it. In fact, seek out opportunities to suck. It’s fun!
The other day, I suggested to a friend that we go do one of those paint and sip art classes. You know the ones? You drink a bottle of wine and two hours later, you’ve got a painting in your hands? My friend said, “But I have no artistic ability.” To which I said, “Who the hell cares?”
|Yeah, I framed it.|
I go to these classes and paint with the joy of a four year-old. At one class, I sat next to my lovely sister-in-law, who is studying to be an art teacher. She has…what are the words? Skill and talent. Yes, she’s actually really good. So while she was stepping back and looking at the composition of her piece and carefully blending colors, I was merrily slapping the canvas with a brush and saying things like, “I like your painting! Do you like my painting? I like my painting.” Exactly like a four year-old.
Life is so much more fun if you give yourself permission to do something and NOT be good at it. So I’m not a good painter. That’s cool.
I’m not a very good triathlete, either. This will be my ninth summer of racing, and I always placed in the bottom third of my age group. I’ve never cracked middle-of-the-pack, and it’s fine. I do it, anyway. It’s not even that I like running! I’m slow and my right knee knows when it’s going to rain, but even as I’m running, I think, “This is the easiest part of my day.” It is so empowering to do something that many people think is really hard, and know that everything else you do in real life is actually harder. Think about it. What’s harder than being a special-needs parent? Nothing! Racing gives me a sense of accomplishment. Finish lines are nice. Finish lines next to beer tents are even nicer.
So if you’re thinking about trying a race, but you’re afraid of coming in last, don’t worry! It doesn’t matter. If I happen to cross the finish line before you, I will save you a beer!
And then there’s acting. I do plays once in a while, and it’s great fun. My acting chops are at an acceptable level for community theater. (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions here.) But even at this level, friends will ask me the questions. How do you learn all those lines? Weren’t you nervous? What if the scene gets messed up or you forget a line? Isn’t that embarrassing?
Embarrassing? Maybe, a little. More embarrassing than dealing with a DEFCON 1 meltdown in Target?* No. More embarrassing than having to climb into the plastic tubing at the McDonald’s Playplace to retrieve a defiant child? Never. Community theater is easier than parenting.
Everything is easier than parenting. Parenting is the most important thing we do, so we need to reserve all our strength to do it well. Let’s cut ourselves some slack on the rest. We need fun. So think about something you’ve always wanted to try…and try it! Get on out there and don’t be afraid to SUCK!
*Contrary to popular belief, DEFCON 5 is the best state of affairs. DEFCON 5 means peace. DEFCON 1 is World War III. Go back and watch War Games. I’ll wait here.