Have you ever felt very inadequate for all the skills you don’t have? I am certainly no stranger to this state of “never enough.” I’ve felt as if I must pause time and master it all before I can feel whole. However, I realized I could combat this sense of inadequacy by counting the things I could embrace being terrible at.
For example, I can accept that I never learned cooking. It’s cool because I like eating simply for health reasons anyway. Part of me wishes I lived up to the gourmet goodness of Thug Kitchen Party Grub that my sister got me for Christmas, and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll impress friends with how conventionally amazing plant-based food can be. But if I’m forever basic in the kitchen, I’m okay with that too. My overly green smoothies and my un-photogenic vegetable stews make this girl a happy, vibrant vegan.
Here’s another one. I’ve never been great at keeping up with news, politics, and pop culture. My eyes glaze over as folks discuss all the cool movies I’ve never seen, and I’m usually the last person to figure out there’s a global pandemic going on. Yet instead of doubting I have anything to contribute, I can pick out a few things from my fringe interests that I think could intrigue others. Did you know just as there are snakes who rattle their tails as a warning, there are also snakes who fart when threatened? Hmm, I might have to pick a more appropriate geek fact for my next Zoom party, but I’ll work on it!
Below are 5+ others things I know I’m terrible at, but I’ve identified a bright side to them that helps me lean on my strengths. Some of my incompetencies are rare or individual to me, while others you may relate to. Whatever gaps you have in your abilities, I hope these examples get you thinking creativity about how to leverage the unique you to your advantage!
Oh, do I stink at online dating. I must have met up with at least 50 people by now and I still have never had a partner. Moreover, I got to the point of feeling so distracted and apathetic whenever I open a dating app, my reply rate must be 1%. By all objective measures, I’ve gotten almost nowhere on my quest.
Notwithstanding, I remind myself: My goal is not to be good at dating. What I really want to be good at is relating to just one person—my future partner—and being the best version of myself who is capable of forming and sustaining that desired relationship. With that in mind, I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I relish my self-development. I love making like-minded friends. And I’m happy to share the true me with the internet!
I’m a level zero at sitting still. Anyone who’s spent a day with me knows I have undiagnosed ADHD. And every time I try to load an ocean waves video on YouTube to help me sleep, Emily Fletcher pops up with her meditation ad and I just know she’s speaking to me directly.
Alas, I have learned to meditate—just in my own quirky ways. Before I eat lately, I take at least one deliberate inhale and exhale, and I set an intention for the meal. I’m usually too impatient to do a meditation of “proper” length, but hey, it’s a great 10-second trigger that amps up my mindfulness 3 times a day!
Treadmill meditation: As I power-walk uphill and hang on to those handlebars, I like to close my eyes and count my way to 28 breaths through my nose. (Since I’m 28.) After that, I’ve been doing loving-kindness meditation. Phrases like, May you be free from suffering; may you live with ease give me something to fall back on, but basically I just pick a person to focus on and I give them an impromptu speech of appreciation and compassion in my head. They can’t complain if I ramble because it’s not actually real!
Okay, but my favorite is what I call “insomnia meditation.” It’s what happens when I don’t allow myself to escape into technology, even when I can’t shut my mind off and sleep. Forced to just lie in bed, I experience all my thoughts and sensations. It’s often the most undistracted hour (or two, or three) of my week! At first, anxiety, regret, and other intense feels toss and turn me. I’m way too conscious for comfort. But after I persist for a couple of hours, somehow the thoughts sort themselves out; I am left feeling peaceful, joyous, clear, and in touch with my heart.
When I was a preteen, I hoped to grow up into an impassioned animal activist who sang about anti-speciesism from the rooftops.
My younger self would be pleased I ended up working for an animal welfare campaign, and then for a plant-based meat company. Yet honestly, I never felt like a “real activist” in these roles, because I seldom had in-depth conversations about the issues. I just smiled and handed people a clipboard or a sample of Beyond Burger. Perhaps it’s my imposter syndrome speaking, but I felt SO embarrassed that outside work, I was too shy to have casual chats about vegan stuff in my normal everyday life.
And you know what? That’s all right. I’m no Genesis Butler or Earthling Ed, but I still find ways to spread seeds of interspecies ethics. Since articles are how I best express myself, it’s been quite fulfilling just to tell my animal-friendly stories and ideas in blog posts!
If I had been good at gender transitioning, I’d be done by now. Disorganized and indecisive, years went by before I saved my first dime for surgery. This transgender lady is embarrassed she still doesn’t know how to doll herself up with a cute hairstyle. I even went off hormones because the side effects bothered me too much. To this day, I have to wash my clothes more than once a week because I’m that bad at shopping for myself. Now what?
So I might not be much of an “After” picture. I have gained other things on this journey that matter much more. I went from misunderstood, to surrounded by peer and family support. Through my struggles and reflection, I came to an understanding of my gender that gives me inner harmony. I accept my body, I accept my mind, and I accept the contradictions of being an evolving human.
Singing, making money, networking, changing a tire, following dance instructions… My list of non-talents goes on and on. By owning the ways I struggle, fail, and feel bashful, I’m more able to take pride in my strengths. Plus, I feel more open to connecting with my fellow people! I do hope to get better at skill-building over time, and be a significantly savvier 38-year-old than I am today! For the time being, I’m sticking’ with my mantras: Terrible is just 3 letters away from terrific! I LOVE being 28, and I just can’t wait to be 29.
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Photo: Elia Pellegrini via Unsplash; Clay Banks via Unsplash