No I can’t! And that’s…great.

As I mentioned yesterday, I ALWAYS feel like I’m missing out. As if I am not doing as much as I can to experience the world. I am always jealous of the year before me in school – they get the best field trips, the best concerts, the best teachers (before they retire), etc.

So, as usual, I try to do everything.

The problem is, I really can’t do it all. It’s not that I don’t have the drive…it’s that:

  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I’m honestly not as good at that as I thought I was.
  • it’s not as fun as I thought it would be.
  • I have no friends there.
  • it conflicts with other commitments.
  • I don’t have the money.
  • I. Just. Can’t.

It’s indescribably horrible for me to come across these realizations. I want to be apart of SO. MUCH. I try and try and try and stretch myself thin, wanting to do it all so much that it starts to be not enjoyable. That I actually start going backwards.

And then I just secretly get mad at all the people who CAN do it.

I recently had to give up something I was trying to do. A keyboard part in the musical at school. I had to face the facts:

  1. I’m really not that good at piano. Especially when it’s ALL chords.
  2. I will never learn all this in a month. I hardly have time to practice my primary instrument, let alone a part in Oklahoma!
  3. This isREALLY stressing me out.
  4. However, the last practice was kind of fun…oh well.

So I gave up my part. When I got home, I had the greatest feeling. It wasn’t that I suddenly had my Thursdays back. It wasn’t that I didn’t have to practice this anymore (however agonizing it was). It wasn’t that I didn’t have to let anyone down anymore because I couldn’t learn it. (Although all of those are fantastic reasons to be joyful.) It was because I realized: I can’t do it.

I am set free!

I admit it! I am just not that good! No more hopeless hoping, grinding my teeth at the thought of practicing only to re-remind myself that it’s not working…

How liberating it feels to shout to the world around:  I seriously can’t do this guys!

You all know that I am a terrible liar. It is exhausting for me to pretend. Especially to myself. And I know, I know that the teachers, motivational speakers, counselors, and Nike shoes of the world chant “You can do it if you put your mind to it!”, “You’ll be fine!”, “Just do it!”, “Try your best”, “Never settle for less than your best!” and “the little engine that could”. But WHY?! Why are we handing the globe basically the key to success that doesn’t fit every lock? We can’t do everything; nor should we feel we must. The standards are set so high, so young, that people not even two decades old are left disappointed in the world and themselves. Everything takes practice, some people are naturals, and that’s that. The thing is, optimism has its place. If you feel like you just bombed a quiz, it’s okay to say, “Whoops, failed that one.” Feel the failure. Then pick up your materials and promise to study next time. Mistakes and flubs are what makes the earth go round – who learns something by doing it perfectly? (no one.) I just realized how dumb I felt trying out for jazz 1. I knew the minute I was done I didn’t make it. I am good on my own standards, but it’s a competitive position I was looking to gain and I only have 2 years experience. No wonder. But, I thought, “Sam, be positive! There’s always that chance…” So I lied to myself saying, “You’re gonna make it, you’re gonna make it!” I’m an intuitive person. I knew I didn’t make it. And I didn’t. “Whoops, I only have two years experience. Oh well!” Now I know what to nail the audition next year with. (Sight reading. Rats.)

My advice to you: positive attitudes and optimism are great things! If you’re a positive person, stay that way! But don’t let optimism blur the reality. If you can’t do it, ya can’t do it! Maybe you will be able to do it later, but right now, not so much. Stare failure in the face and say, “Thanks for the advice. I’ll try something different next time.” Or say, “I hate you. My hate fuels my desire for success, so I will do it better next time!!” Or you can cry, get it all out, then pick yourself up and do something else. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure means you won’t be stagnant.

So now, I can scale a high mountain, inhale the thin mountain air and let my voice carry on the wind that “I CAN’T DO IT! And that’s just WONDERFUL!”

JK Rowling nails this pretty well in her commencement speech at Harvard college.

 

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