Embrace What You Suck At
We all can remember back to our elementary school days when some well-meaning teacher told our class that all of us are good at something. And they were right. We may not have realized what it was at the time, and some of us may still be searching for exactly what it is, but each of us has some special gift, something that we are uniquely skilled at. Some of us may be good at Math. Others might be remarkably proficient at archery. And still others might be talented painters. Either way, we all have something that is our own particular gift we are blessed to share with the world, and we should celebrate that gift with all the vibrant deliciousness it deserves. But so too should we celebrate the things we suck at, for these too are a crucial part of who we are, and embracing them is vital to recognizing the unique qualities that make us the beautiful, wondrous humans each and every one of us are.
I’ve always suggested that every person on this planet has at least one thing that they are uncommonly skilled at. Usually a combination of an unquenchable thirst for hard-earned improvement and pure, God-given genetics, these skills and attributes often come to be the means by which we define ourselves. For Stephen Hawking, it was Theoretical Physics; for Justin Timberlake, it’s singing and dancing; and of course, for Donald Trump, it’s pretty much just lying and grabbing women by the pussy. As for me personally, I’m a pretty decent guitarist, and I can certainly pen a line or two, but really I think I have three unique talents. If you’ve ever seen me ski, you know that’s one of them, and my students (minus the ones who failed my class) will tell you that I am one of the best teachers they have ever had. As to the third, well, I am going to leave that one up to your imagination. Let’s just say that all my previous girlfriends can attest to its veracity (and while all of them would have preferred for me to just be a better listener, that’s not it).
Now some of you, like my current partner, might be wondering just where I find the stones to echo this kind of bravado. After all, how does a 5’8” nerdy white guy have the audacity to publicly acknowledge such a grandiose sense of self as evidenced in the last lines of the previous paragraph? Truth be told, it comes from the fact that I am comfortable with who I am, which is not to say that that impression is firmly rooted in reality. So what exactly is the source then of my more than healthy sense of self?
What I can tell you is that it has nothing to do with the stuff I’ve already mentioned; everyone feels good about the shit they do well. No, my self-assurance is not derived from bragging about the stuff I’m good at; it comes from embracing the many thing I suck at.
Awhile back, a reader challenged me to name some of the things I knew I was terrible at. I chuckled out loud, thinking to myself, “Holy shit, where o’ where do I begin?” I suck at pretty much all ball sports, soccer in particular. I suck at talking to women (which does make you wonder how I ever got to the point of having a girlfriend in the first place). I suck at getting things down off of high shelves. I suck at quietly sneaking up on just about anything. But the first thing that came to my mind when she asked me that question was just how bad I am at fixing pretty much anything. For Father’s Day last year, my ex conspired with my two children to buy me a keychain that reads “Don’t worry- Dad Can Fix It!” Yeah, those assholes were dying laughing before I even got the wrapping paper off of it.
But that’s just it, so was I. I find that gag gift every bit as funny as they did. I know that I struggle to put together IKEA furniture. I am well aware that my girlfriend doesn’t even bother to ask me if I can fix something before calling a contractor to come take a look at it. I am in denial about absolutely none of this, and my sense of self is all the healthier for my willingness to acknowledge and embrace these personal shortcomings.
Yes, I could certainly pick out my more impactful personal foibles, such as my inability to engage in difficult, high-conflict conversations or manage my fantasy football team effectively, but in the end, this piece isn’t about me; it’s about all of you being willing to dig into your own personas and embracing the things you know deep-down you suck at. Because it is only when you do so, when you stop to own that shit and embrace it with all the wild abandon that you do a long-lost lover, that you can likewise be ok with owning and showcasing the remarkable talents that make you the amazing human being you really are.
By accepting our own shortcomings and inherently recognizing the imperfections that make us so wonderfully human, we also get to step back and appreciate the aspects of our unique selves that allow us to tap into the divinity within each and every one of us. Instead of nervously trying to hide your flaws like Queen Elizabeth applying makeup to whatever cosmetic defects lay beneath those layers of foundation and blush, own them and display them proudly as the signs of your own beautiful humanity. Because YOU are beautiful. You and everyone else.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com