Once upon a time, in the matrix of the World Wide Web a man commented, “Why would anyone do something they’re not good at?”
Why waste time writing a bad book and sell it to unsuspecting readers? Why create bad art for viewers to witness an atrocity of paint? Why sing loud and off-key? Why play music if we have no talent? Why play sports if we can barely walk without falling on our faces? Why force our suckiness to the world?
But let’s start from the beginning.
All of us suck when we start something new, whether it be an art form, a sport, or anything for that matter. We practice, we learn, and we improve. This idea that we shouldn’t do anything because we’re not good at it is, well…sad. It speaks to those who failed, fell off the horse, and never got back on. It speaks to those who lack faith in the process.
We live in a paradoxical time. As artisans and athletes of all kinds, we have the freedom to do whatever our hearts desire. The downside is, that there are now more people who criticize and judge. There’s a new meaning to the phrase: “Everyone’s a critic.”
Many feel compelled to offer their comments without request. We just plop down our “feedback” and judgments on shopping sites and social media without any real thought to the product or the creator.
However, overcoming these judgments can touch us at a personal level. We live in a critical society, one that celebrates over-achievers and “winners.” If we’re not a winner, not an unbridled successful billionaire, or a bestseller author overnight, why continue? This is society’s message seeped into our skulls—and sadly, many are stuck because of it.
We have the added pressure to constantly succeed and be better than our last effort. When we fail to deliver our exceeding expectations, we fall into a well of self-doubt, “I’m never going to paint again.” “That’s the last book I’m going to write.” “I suck at yoga.” “I’m out of shape. I’m not going to the gym.”
Our poor, creative, and well-meaning hearts break. We give up. Now, giving up is what really sucks.
Years ago, I attended college as an art major. I, like many other young people, was full of self-doubt and not sure what I wanted to do with my life. Throughout my childhood everyone told me I was good at art, so being an art major seemed like a good idea, until I nearly flunked out. Yes, I flunked art school. What a loser I was—or so I thought.
Drawing and painting are like therapy for me. They calm me—or maybe it is the glass of wine I am drinking. But then eventually, self-judgment sets in and I put my works aside. Last year, I was thrilled to take a painting class. I was so enthralled by painting again, I bought a few canvases and attempted to paint on my own. The outcome was pure mediocrity, and in some cases, downright suckiness. What a waste of paint and canvas!
This year, I took a different approach. I bought a sketchbook in which to paint. Here I can dab my paintbrush with pure uninhibited abandon. Who cares if what I paint sucks? I can turn a blank page and start again. In these pages, I’m allowing myself to suck, to improve my skills, and find my artistic style.
And not only do I feel completely liberated to do what makes me happy, I have been sharing what I call my “non-judgmental art” on social media for the whole world to see my progress—and the reception has been encouraging.
So, I’m here to set everyone free. It’s okay to f*cking suck. In fact, make it a goal. Write a bad story. Paint an awful picture. Draw an image that is unrecognizable. Sing off-key. Make music that makes cats screech and dogs howl.
Can’t touch your toes? Who cares. Winded after five minutes on the treadmill? Get off and go sit in the sauna. Do it and do it with passion. Scream out loud, “I f*cking suck!” Do it in front of all the critics.
Before people think I’m crazy and have lost my mind, hear me out. We own our processes. No one else. Our processes are something we need to take pride in. Say, “I may not be good now, but I’m here, I’m showing up, I’m learning and dammit, I will improve.”
The truth is, we are our biggest critics and when we let others judge, criticize, and give unwarranted feedback, we are allowing them to validate our self-doubt. When we own our sucking, we own our processes, and our progresses. Other judgments and criticisms become meaningless.
Everyone has the right to create or do something for which they have great passion without the unnecessary feedback of others. Do it because it is liberating. Do it because when we allow ourselves to suck, we are freeing ourselves to learn, to evolve, and improve.
We are enabling ourselves to go beyond our critics, especially our own inner critics.
Author: Jennifer Ott
Image: Youtube trailer
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Lieselle Davidson