You have my permission to SUCK

January 13, 2013 in feel-good, self-coaching


There are so many times that I’ve started something and sucked at the beginning.  Running, building a website, watching my finances, applying eye-liner (ow).  After so many beginnings of things – and so many eventual improvements – I came to the realization that it’s okay to really, truly suck.  Blew my effing mind.

Maybe Bill Murray's right.  Maybe I do suck.  And that's still okay...

Maybe Bill Murray’s right. Maybe I do suck. And that’s still okay…

In the last few years I’ve begun at a whole lot of things, and sucked at lots of them: cooking for myself, working full time, working for myself, being in a relationship, owning pets, living far from my family, living with my boyfriend. These aren’t things I can’t just give up because I’m no good; I can’t stop feeding myself just because I ruined a perfectly good batch of brown rice (sigh…), I can’t stop feeding my cat because her new food makes her poop smell toxic (tmi?).  I sucked at some rice, and I sucked at some cat food.  Big deal.  It was an off choice.  I made it.  And now it’s done.  Life goes on.

Because hey, let’s consider the alternative to wading through the suck: quitting. How many times have I given up at something because I was too ashamed to suck?  Playing the piano, swimming, step aerobics (believe it), learning French.  I took a surfing lesson once and when my little sister got up on the board before I did, I folded. I didn’t use my suckage as an opportunity to encourage myself through the painful feelings of failure. Instead, I threw my face in the sand and cried.  I gave up on any potential surfing future because I sucked on the first day.  Opportunity: missed.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed that I wasn’t a pro boarder on my first try?  It sounds so silly now.

The limit of my surfing activities since then

The limit of my surfing activities since then

In 2011, I started jogging.  For months, I slogged around the track behind my apartment, building up my endurance from “nowhere near even a mile” to “still nowhere near a mile.”  It was hard for me, and I wasn’t good at it.  I sucked at jogging.  But acknowledging how much space I had for improvement felt so good (and frankly, it was doing something to the shape of my ass that thrilled me to no end). One day, the thought of going around that mother effing track drove me batty, so I thought hey, I could jog along the river bank!  Change of scene!  Fun!

Then another thought: Whoa, hold the phone.  Jogging in public would mean passing better joggers.  Who would see me huff and puff and jiggle and stop.  People who would see me suck at jogging. So I resigned to the skull-numbing boredom of going around the track again, when BAM a new – and much better feeling – thought:


Sucking at jogging was not the end of my experience of it, it was the beginning and I was a beginner. It would have been foolish for me to expect to bust out, guns blazing, marathons burning in my wake. I was beginning, and I gave myself permission to suck at it until I didn’t suck anymore, however long it would take.  I decided that working my butt off doing something I knew was great for me was way more important than feeling silly. When I think about it now I feel so proud it makes my heart sing.

If a six-year-old kid tried something for the first time and botched it horribly, would you mock him and tell him to stop trying?  Hell no!  You’d high-five his gross little snot-covered hand and cheer him on.  So next time you feel yourself sucking at something, try to find the opportunity to high five your gross little snot-covered hand (metaphorically). Cheer yourself on.

Find out what you suck at and celebrate all the space it affords. Being a beginner is exciting.  Having room to grow is exhilarating.

Can’t quite figure out how to stop throwing your head in the sand instead?  I can help ya out.