Tonight is Blogapalooza, an event during which all ChicagoNow bloggers are given a topic and exactly one hour to write and publish a post on it. Tonight our challenge is: “Without trying to be humble, write about something you’re really good at.”
And I don’t know why, but reading that made me teary. This is funny, because when he was reminding us of the event today, “Tonight’s Blogapalooz-Hour topic has been chosen. It’s a fun one, not a crying-all-over-your-keyboard one.”
Great, now I’m not even good at having fun. But the thing is, I feel like I’m good at pretty much nothing these days. Not a bloomin’ thing.
I really want to be good at, well, most things. Not everything, though. I’m not completely unrealistic.
In fact, I’m pretty okay with not being good at slam dunking given that I’m 5’1″. I’ve also made my peace with the fact that I’ll never be Victoria’s Secret model because after reading the Buzzfeed post from yesterday that had its staffers, who are normal women, pose like those models, they concluded that models are contortionists with high pain threshholds, and that doesn’t sound up my alley.
With those out of the way, it feels like I should be able to be really good at something. But my jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none self can’t come up with anything. Back in the day when being “well rounded” was in, that was perfectly fine. And of course, I adored my liberal arts experience at college because I got to sample all different kinds of classes and didn’t have to be very good at it, more just interested and passable. I was both.
But as a grown up? Well, I’m faltering at excelling.
I get a “definite okay” in a variety of disciplines. There are things I feel like I’m kinda good at, such as being able to identify 80’s pop songs in just a few notes, making pancakes, and eating more cupcakes than I should. But it seems the only thing I’m really good at it is not knowing what I’m really good at.
I think being really good at something is a very high bar, and it seems that there are so very many people who are significantly better at pretty much everything.
I was thinking that the brilliant “comparison is the thief of joy” phrase may apply here, but on second thought, I don’t think it does. I derive great joy from numerous activities even if I’m not very good at them.
I can hear people who love me cringing right now. My self deprecation gets old and is largely unappreciated by them. I’m lucky to be loved so very well, and I apologize to them, but I’m not good at seeing myself through their eyes. I’m so grateful that they have faith in me even when I do not.
I so desperately want to be really good at being a mom. I want that even more than I want to be really good at writing (and I want that pretty badly). So, I struggle with how to teach my kid to embrace her successes even when I’m not feeling my own.
Right now, for me, that that means being proud of what I do, even if it’s not as fabulous as I wish it was.
It means acknowledging that we are all works in process, that there is always room for improvement, and that striving is important.
It’s about emphasizing that the journey matters more than the end result.
It definitely includes telling her that it doesn’t matter to me if she’s the best, but it does matter if she works the hardest or cares the most or is the kindest.
It means encouraging her to surround herself with people who see in her the best, most positive light, and valuing true friends when you find them.
It’s talking about the importance of pushing aside self doubt and charging ahead anyway, and not shying away from challenges.
It means not letting other people’s pride in their accomplishments detract from your feelings about yourself.
It mean not falling down the rabbit hole of thinking people who are very good at something you wish you were very good at have an easier or happier life, and recognizing that they often do not, and that every single one of us has our struggles even if they aren’t visible.
It means that you do you, and that’s all finding what makes you happy.
This sounds very silly, but I remember an Irish cartoon that I watched with my almost teenager when she was three. I can’t remember the name of the show (add that to the list of things I’m not good at) but I can picture it in my head like it was yesterday.
A little girl pig with a charming brogue was learning to Irish dance and she loved it. It made her happy as a pig in, well, you know. And it turns out that she was a really, really bad Irish dancer.
Her friends spent most of the episode debating whether and how to tell her. Eventually, someone did. The poor little pig was devastated. And then a wise elder asked how she felt about Irish dance.
“I love it!” she replied happily.
The elder then told her that it didn’t matter if she was good at it, that doing something for the sake of enjoyment, regardless of talent, was not only completely okay, but a great thing to do. In fact, doing things that made her happy and not listening to the naysayers would, in fact, lead to a happy life.
I may not be very good at much, but there are so many things I enjoy. There is much in this world that brings me great joy. I know that I’m ridiculously fortunate. That’s what really matters. Maybe I’m really good at recognizing that you don’t have to really good at anything to be really happy.
You can see all the ChicagoNow posts from tonight’s topic here.
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