When talking with more self-deprecating friends, I often describe my life as one awkward encounter after another. This isn’t a fair picture of my life, but it makes me laugh to say it this way. The last few years, especially on social media & camera, has seemed to be a documentation of me being kinda average at most things I have a go at.
At the Year 7 camp in early 2016, there is a video of me trying for what seemed like an eternity to climb to the next rock in rock climbing. It didn’t even end in victory. I just kinda deflated and rolled over like a slug as I did the ‘lower of shame’, or so it appears to watch in person. Failing in front of my students that day is a time I recall proudly. Firstly because, despite us being due for a lunch break, I insisted on everyone watching me struggle for more than most would deal with. Tick for selfishness! And secondly because I helped foster a belief we try to instil- that it is ok to suck. Just have a go.
But for me, sucking in public is more than a pattern in my life. It’s actually one of the best things I can do to empower other people. And often my intentions are so lovely that to avoid the sucking would mean to do a little less good. Here are some times I have failed, sucked or made a mistake publically:
· Singing in the street of Camden. Not brilliant but had a crack. This lead to someone from a local radio station approaching me about getting my originals on air. Overall, good experience.
· I made the equivalent of an elaborate birthday card for someone where I used the wrong word, totally out of context and it was seen by a lot of people. D’oh!
· Every so often I show songs I’ve written that are far from perfect or polished. I get told frequently that I am nowhere near ready to have my voice heard in public! Haha!
· There are 2 embarrassing music videos floating around of me not knowing what the hell I’m doing. Cringeworthy, but I leave them online for a reason.
· Last big karate competition I lost balance in front of people who look up to me. I also got my butt repeatedly kicked in sparring.
· Literally whenever I share a blog post. Most the insights are what are top of mind. I read them later and am like, ‘Damn, I forgot this part!’ or ‘Damn, I could use some writing lessons!’ or it feels rushed.
· Did some dancing recently where I was paired with a brilliant dude who, despite his talents in leading, just couldn’t make me look good!
All the suckiness of this can seem compounded by the fact that most of the time I am in a mentorship role, where people may expect me to be good at anything I put my mind to. That is, afterall what I teach and am invested in- the brilliance of the mind.
And some other real reveals:
· Most the time I do or share something publicly that isn’t perfect I feel a little sick. Especially if it means a lot to me.
· Plenty of what I share is soul-baring. Song lyrics, projects I have worked at for months, skills I have tried to master for years. So when it’s not quite right, it has the potential to feel more personal.
· Sometimes I have to switch off my phone so I don’t get caught up in caring about likes and comments on social media. Only because I still deeply love the reassurance that I am doing something right (even though social media should not be the measure of this).
So why public sucking? Shouldn’t I just suck on my own time?
Ok, so sometimes I am aware of the suckiness, and other times I am not prepared for how subpar a moment may turn out, but here are all the plusses!
· It encourages other people to step away from total perfectionism at the expense of fun and self-expression. It doesn’t make perfection the pinnacle, but rather puts value on having a go and the potential that holds.
· Most of the time, if I am sucking publically, it means that I am compelled to do it by some inner yearning or higher force that I just cannot disagree with. It either holds the key to fulfilment or lessons that I will cherish forever.
· It does keep me accountable for improving and evolving. It’s a nice public measure that I hope serves as a contrast in the future. It also reveals the process of improving to other people by revealing those awkward in between stages. It is ok to not just be good at something.
· It makes that glorious statement that it is ok for a person to just be themselves.
· And most of all, if anybody, just one person can learn something or feel empowered or supported or reassured by something I share- even if it isn’t perfect, well then that is what I live for. It would be a travesty to let perfectionism get in the way of helping others.
Now to you. There is no expectation, even after reading this, that you need to publicly suck at something or upload content that you aren’t happy with. But, if you feel that being unabashedly yourself may inspire someone else to do the same, well doesn’t that seem damn noble?! If you’ve been holding back sharing some of yourself because you, like me, are not perfect, maybe you could have a go at revealing something a little more. Something you are working on. Something sweet you thought of that you wonder if others may think is silly. Something you’ve been holding onto, when it can do far more good out in the world.
Your suckiness, it turns out, is likely not that sucky at all. It is probably something you highly value and want to get right. It’s the kind of thing that makes you YOU and taps into something unique that would make someone else go WOW!
If something came to mind just then, I would love to hear what it is. Do you plan to do something about it? I hope so, if it is right for you.
And moreover, because, even in our suckiness the world resumes, it is another beautiful lesson that it is SAFE to be free and honest and open.
In fellow love and sweet suckiness,