So I ran a 10k a couple weeks ago. And by run, I mean, I looked like I was running, but I’m pretty sure the speedwalkers passed me (definitely passed me, actually).
But I sucked.
I wasn’t embarrassed.
I wasn’t discouraged.
I’ll probably even do it again – sucking the whole way.
And I’ll be proud of finishing then…just like I was proud of finishing this race.
And I’m ok with never getting better at it, but it’d be cool if I did. But it’s really no big deal either way.
It’s not that I don’t want to get better.
It’s not that I don’t want to see what happens when effort and determination pay off.
It's just that I’ve learned to thrive on the relief that comes with being vulnerable. I’ve learned freedom comes from letting go of needing to (or even wanting) be the best, and fuels my ability to truly live. I’ve learned to treasure the humility that comes from having my ass handed to me.
I've learned that it's important for me to do things I suck at. For all of those reasons.
No one is good at everything. And none of us will ever be the best at anything. Ever. And if we think we are, we’ve got so much more to learn.
I can say all of this now, with confidence, because when I was younger – I wouldn’t do something if I didn’t think I could win…or, at least, be really damn good.
Because I thought that being the best was winning. Because I thought I was letting someone down if I wasn’t the best. And that only made me frustrated with all I couldn’t be.
And, boy, did I miss out at amazing chances to learn – in doing, in observation, and even in losing.
It’s not about learning to be the best. Not even learning to be better. But learning that experience – good or bad – is winning, especially when it makes me a better human. I’m not talking about taking home a participation trophy. I’m talking about flat-out sucking at something and learning to still walk away with a smile. And walking away wanting to do it again. Doing it again because it’s worth it.
Someone will always be better at something. Perfection doesn’t exist. Humanity does. Let’s be the ones cheering on the sidelines for anyone chasing to face hard things…even if they suck. Because it means they're also great at embracing human-ness and becoming better people. (But, the people who are good at things? They need cheering, too! Both at the things they're good at and whatever they suck at!)
We all have things that we’re good at. But the things we conquer don’t define us. Character in the face of all things does.