(Wanted to post this text of a speech I gave recently, because it’s fun.)
Grilled cheese, singing, playing poker, loading furniture in car, remembering I’m lactose intolerant. All things I’m bad at. They’re my bad. What about you, what’s your bad?
But wait, there’s more.
I’m a bad driver. I’m a bad manager. I’m a bad SAHM. Who admits that? These are all things I’ve said and believed about myself.
Today, I share with you three questions to help you break down the self-limiting statement “I’m bad at that”, and understand it. Then forget all of this societal peer pressure to “be your best,” you can celebrate your bad!
Why not? I mean, used to be you pretty much had to be or live with a farmer, a laborer, builder, a tailor or seamstress, a tool crafter, a roofer, a plumber, EWWW drains??? I can’t do any of that, and it’s OK. We don’t HAVE to be good at everything anymore.
But…Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I would argue that the same is true for unexamined bad, which is not worth… Badding…. Well, I haven’t fully fleshed out the comparative metaphor but I feel strongly about it. If you don’t examine your bad, you risk:
- missing out on adventure
- missing out on a deeper understanding of who you are, and who you are capable of being, and allowing us to miss out too
- Missing out on burning calories. Being bad means failure, and Failure burns fat. Check the Interwebs, people, that’s science right there.
So here are the three questions to ask yourself:
Does your bad have an upside?
I’m not talking a cheesy “I’m too much of a perfectionist,” or “I intimidate people with my perfection” but what is the REAL value in your bad. What does your bad bring to the table?
Take grilled cheese – I can’t make a grilled cheese sandwich to save my life. Burnt, crunchy, smoky and bad, every time. So on grilled cheese and tomato soup night at my house, my children have the blessing of seeing their dad as a competent and nurturing provider in the kitchen, and I get to eat grilled cheese. Not only that, but it made me mad I couldn’t master such a simple skill. So I dug in, did more research, and I discovered the secret to the grilled cheese sandwich. (The secret to a great grilled cheese? It’s mayonnaise. You’re welcome.)
Are you really globally bad, or is your definition of the role or activity too limited?
Sometimes we allow ourselves to believe that because we do not reach the general definition of good than we are bad, when in fact we are merely bad at parts of the role; maybe parts that don’t even matter to us, and we rock at parts of the role for which we are uniquely gifted. We’ve got to break it down.
I’m a bad driver. No I’m not, I’m a bad parker…and un-parker. “Public service announcement for the audience, tonight’s speaker is currently driving a blue Toyato Prius. Please use caution when exiting the parking lot…”
I’m a bad manager. No, I’m not, I’m great at building teams, making the work fun, and enrolling people to a cause! I’m bad at minor little parts of the role that don’t interest or excite me. You know, budgets, spreadsheets, timelines, budget-y things…
But what do we lose when we just accept we are bad at something? What if I have an amazing hidden talent at plumbing? Let’s be clear, I’m still not gonna do it, cause gross.
But…what if you have the potential to be an life-changing translator of ancient Gaelic poetry, but you gave up on languages in the ninth grade when your Spanish teacher spent all of the class lecturing you on the nuanced details of Sandinistan politics and teaching you curse words. Maybe you’re not bad at languages, you’re just bad at caring about Central American politics, or you are too shy to ever use the good swear words! (Too specific of an example? I can’t imagine why…)
For me the most difficult was saying and believing I was a bad stay at home mom. But I’m not good at preschool crafts. I could not get trips to the park right; apparently they needed snacks, sunscreen, diapers, EVERY TIME; and every time it was a surprise to me. I wasn’t a Pinterest mom, I didn’t color coordinate or decorate or blah-blah-ate. Most of all, the house was, and is, always a mess. So I believed it, believed I was a bad SAHM.
That’s just a recipe for poor self-esteem and worse coping skills!
Until I realized I was great with frogs and snakes and laser tag and rocks and adventures and road trips, I realized I was a GREAT mom. I may be bad at crafts, I’m not pinteresty, and I’m a bad housekeeper. I can live with that!
What if you are really objectively bad? Do you, in fact, suck? That brings me to the final question. If you really suck, you must ask yourself: does it still bring you joy? If it does, then you must find a way to do it anyways!
I’m a terrible singer. Awful. But I enjoy it, and so I sing. Unless it’s a small Happy Birthday ensemble, then I lipsync.
Don’t accept your bad. Understand it, define it, and then celebrate your best bad!
(Cue the song in your head, go on now. “Celebrate your bad, come on!”)