Growing up I was always an overachiever. Most of my self-worth was defined by how good my grades were and how many extracurricular I could participate in. I couldn’t pass the class, I had to ace the class. I couldn’t do a sport, I had to do all the sports. And choir. And color guard. And dance team. And FFA. And honor society. And. And. And. (The rest of my self-worth was defined by whether or not a boy liked me, but that is another post.)
Looking back on it now is so weird. Who was that crazy girl?? I can guess at several contributing factors–extrovert personality, people-pleaser temperament, dead dad, school junkie escapist. I am not complaining or beating myself up, just analyzing. Because I am not that girl anymore.
I have done a lot of different types of things in my life (music, dance, sports, art, etc) but I’ve never been great at any of them. In good seasons of life I call it well-rounded. In others it feels like mediocrity. I never focused, drilled down, became an expert at anything. I was okay at lots of stuff.
When I switched schools after sophomore year, I was forced to cut down. You can’t mass participate at a 4A school like you can at a 1A school. Just too many kids. Too many kids who are better than you. I figured I would never make the basketball or softball team at a 4A school so I didn’t go out for any sports. They didn’t even have FFA. Dance team was like a cult that you had to attend private classes for. So I did choir. And flag team (every one makes it on flag team). And auditioned for the school musical in the spring. (I got the part of Gertie in Oklahoma! cuz I can laugh really loud and obnoxiously. I wasn’t acting. It’s fine.)
It was weird at first, to not do everything. Mild identity crisis, but I’m grateful. I think it was my first step toward learning a very valuable lesson
I don’t have to do everything!
This is a very freeing thing for the performance-oriented achiever person. You learn, eventually, not to measure yourself by your ACTS. Like, I’m okay, as is. Being in another club / volunteering for another cause, while great if that’s what I really want to do, won’t in itself make me a better person / more valuable / more worthy of love. This sounds silly when I type it out like that, but so hard to put into practical practice. And way hard when you start applying it to relationships. Like that time my mom got remarried and didn’t need me to be The Solver anymore…but that’s another post.
Realizing this nugget of truth changes your whole value-system. Like switching from a commodity system to a body temperature system. In the new system, I don’t have to do all this stuff, I just have to BE. 98.6 degrees of me.
Now I’d like to clarify that I am still not good at this all the time. Being hardwired / conditioned to be performance-oriented is a hard thing to break. But I recognize the signs better (what’s my motivation? why do I want to do this? how would I feel if I didn’t do it?) and can re-orient myself quicker.
And over the last several years, and specifically this last year, I have been learning a sub-lesson.
I am not good at everything.
And I never will be. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s awesome. Because now I can stop beating the crap out of myself for failing.
For example: I’m not a tidy person. It’s not my temperament. I like stuff tidy but I don’t / can’t care enough on a daily basis to maintain things. Thank God for my husband or we would never have clean underwear or spoons.
I’m sure I could learn new habits, tricks, spend money on a professional organizer (I dream about doing this sometimes actually), and all that, but tidiness will most likely always be a non-strength for me.
So do I accept that and live like a cluttered slob forever? Um, no, not if I want to stay married! I embrace minimalism. I will never be good at keeping all the items in the house tidy. But if I had way less items, I bet I would suck less at tidiness.
Accepting you sucks makes you great.
This isn’t a post about not challenging yourself or others, or striving for mediocrity. It’s about this: stop beating yourself up for stuff you will never be good at. Instead, accept you suck. And then find a better way.
Some things are temperament and some things are skill. Learn what your barrier is. Skills can be learned. Temperament is harder. Like if you suck at managing money, is it because you don’t *know* what do / never been taught? Or it is because your brain just thinks differently? Find out an act accordingly. Skill = take an accounting class. Temperament = hire an accountant.
The other way this makes you great is you can now focus your energy on the stuff you don’t suck at. The stuff you thrive on. If we put all the energy we spend trying to improve / fix our weaknesses on strengthening our strengths, think how freaking awesome we would be at those things!?
Instead of trying to become a master of tidiness, I am going to become a master of public speaking, a master of writing, a master of story-telling–unless it’s a casual in person story. I suck at telling off the cuff stories.
What do you need to “accept your suck” about? What areas do you “find your thrive” in?