Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm Bad At Some Stuff

Last week, I read a blog post by Tiffany Ard, the genius behind Nerdy Baby, which really isn't just for babies.  I dig all her stuff and personally believe her ABC poster (scroll down to the bottom of that page) should hang in every home next to that fabulous Chicago Public Library poster by John Rieben that I've never been able to find in print form.  

[Image from here.]

Anyhoo, in the post she was talking about things she does badly.  She says,

Confronting failures and trying to be less bad at the seventeen things I’m bad at, which doesn’t sound like a lot but they’re pretty general things. It’s not like “bad at making pesto” and “bad at letting fingernails dry without smudging them” — no, those would be very nicely specific shortcomings which could be overlooked because wow, less than 20? Pretty great. But mine are more like “bad at anticipating things that take place at the same time every day” or “bad at having the patience to do things right the first time.”  quote nicked from here

The idea has stuck with me.  I've been taught on the therapist's couch that I should always engage in positive self-talk.  I've done it so long it's become second nature.  To have someone say they are bad at things feels unenlightened... and really good, like admitting I like alcohol only when it tastes like dessert, which I do.

It feels good to say that I'm bad at things without qualifiers.  I know the qualifiers.  I know I'm a lovely person.  I know that my effort counts even if the outcome isn't always ideal.  I know there are lots of things I do well.

But there are things I'm bad at.
  • I'm bad at enjoying the moment.  I love to read, but don't read a ton because I have a very hard time am bad at reading a little, stopping to live my life, reading a bit more, etc.  Once I begin, I inhale books like--well, never mind.  I behave the same way around knitting.  Projects are seen as projects, things to be completed.  I am bad at enjoying the process of doing things I love, like reading and knitting.  That makes me enjoy them less.
  • I am bad at directions.  I can read a map well, but I am bad at knowing how to get places without a map.  If the road curves, I become confused and can no longer tell in which direction I am headed.    
  • To make matters worse, I am also bad at paying attention to where I'm going.  I still don't know the location of things on 86th Street--is the doctor's office east or west of Harcourt Road?  Is the health food store in the strip mall with the big grocery or with the party supply store...or are they all in the same strip mall?  I am not sure I could get to Andrew's Grandpa's house even though Andrew and I have been together for nearly 15 years and we've been there tons of times.  
  • I am bad at letting things go.  I get mad defensively even though I usually don't show it.  I may know in the rational part of my head that there is no reason to be upset by someone's behavior, but I am.  Every time.
  • I am bad at respecting the opinions of people on issues when they differ from my own: gay rights, separation of church and state, immigration, religion, the supremacy of baseball as a professional sport, etc.  I may have named my blog "peaceable liberal," but a more honest moniker is "liberal who thinks you're wrong but is too conflict-adverse to tell you so."
  • I am bad at socializing in large groups of people without feeling that my soul is being sucked out.  I actually am pretty bad at socializing with small groups of people without experiencing the same drain.  
I'm not sure I need to change all of these.  There's only so much I can do about my lack of spatial awareness and my introversion.  I can work to be more aware, certainly, and that may be enough to become less bad at some things.  I can also be happy that the things I'm bad at, while important, aren't life-shattering.  I'm not bad at remembering to feed our pets or tell Andrew I love him or turning off the gas or brushing my teeth.

Who knew being honest about what I'm bad at would feel like positive self-talk?  What are you bad at?

1 comment:

  1. It's so great to say "I'm bad at these things" instead of "I'm bad at everything". Very positive stuff. For myself, I'm bad at cleaning. I tidy up, but I'm really bad at cleaning. Feels kind of good to say.