An uncomfortable truth: Something we don’t want to hear but is true nonetheless. They become oddly comfortable when we need to hear them. Enough poetry, let’s say it how it is.
You’re going to fuck up. A lot probably, if you look at a total at the end of your life. Or at least I hope you do, because that’s what happens if you’re doing anything substantial with your life. People who try shit, make mistakes. They fuck up before they get it right. Nobody gets it perfectly right on the first try.
Because that’s what it’s about. Trying.
Have you ever seen a toddler trying to go from all fours to upright, his or her big head barely balancing it out? They’re wobbly and fall on their diapered tushies all the time. Have you ever seen a little boy or girl take their first bicylce ride without extra wheels? All wobbly and falling on their skinny little knees? A teen’s first kiss? Wobbly and a tongue might cause choking?
On my first date ever, I was too afraid to eat. I just sat there like a deer in headlights while he devoured a burger (I was also afraid to speak too so conversation wasn’t really working out either.) The first story I ever wrote was about a girl walking in a rain and all that happened was she opened her umbrella. Not exactly Pulitzer Prize material.
And even now, in my twenties, I fuck up. I do terribly stupid things, make awful miscalculations on what is appropriate or useful. I make mistakes at work, causing myself (and sometimes others!) a lot of frustration and extra work. My first meetings with clients, yoga class, snowboard lesson was agony and I felt like the biggest dork on the mountain, coughing up snow, flat out, face first. And that’s just in everyday life.
When it comes to achieving my goals, I make great mistakes too.
Age 16, I wanted to lose weight and thought it was a good idea to starve all day and just eat M&M’s whenever I got hungry. A few blood sugar level spikes and crashes later I decided this was not the way. Worst was when I wanted to work as a translator and on a whim, I sent out an application letter without checking for spelling mistakes. The person who got my letter sent me a horrible reply back pointing out all my different mistakes. It was mortifying.
But I never wrote another letter of applicance on a whim though. And I know a healthy diet to lose weight does not consist of anything that has smiley chocolate-covered peanuts on the package.
Although it can be awful to fuck up, to do things wrong and to make mistakes, it has to happen. It can be humiliating, painful and inconvenient, but it is a great way to learn about what works and what doesn’t work for you. The experience will teach you a lot.
Run a few miles and realise the quiet and the monotomy of it will make you kill yourself. Go to a yoga class and realise the solemn teaching method works in your nerves — or causes incontrollable laughter. Try a new restaurant and find yourself chained to the bahtroom the next day due to explosive diarrhea. Make a mistake at work and get punished with lots of the extra paperwork you accidentally caused. Let a friend set you up on a date and suffer through the two most uncomfortable hours of your life. Make a change in your diet that gives you bad breath (and hope one of your friends is kind enough to tell you about it!) Get a new job that turns out totally unsuitable. Try things. Take risks. And screw up if you have to.
These fuck-ups are good stories to tell (the diarrhea part not so much) and they’re great learning experiences. When you fuck up, it makes an impact on who you are. You’re bummed you did something wrong, you’re often stuck with the consequences for a while and repenting for your fuck-ups is another thing one does not easily forget. You remember. You learn.
Furthermore, by trying and making mistakes, you’ll find out what doesn’t work! Once you know that, finding out what does work becomes easier and easier.
By fucking up, you figure out more of things that don’t work for you, automatically weeding out the things that are not up your alley. What does work for you becomes a little easier to find as you’ve crossed off a failed possibility, and leaving more time for you to try it out. If it doesn’t work again, another thing to cross off your list. Not everything works.
So by trying out new things, routing out the mistakes and keeping the things that do work for you, you design. You create a customized diet, a relationship that’s perfect for you, an exercise routine you can stick with, a budget you can uphold, anything. Specifically for you. Targeted to your wants and needs.
What I’m trying to tell you is that by fucking up you can design your entire life into what works for you.
So get your ass out there, try new things, fuck some of them up. It’s one of the smartest things to do in life.