“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly,” read the sign I used to keep above my desk. It was the source of a few misunderstandings. I had to explain what it meant more than once. The message wasn’t that doing a half you-know-what job is okay, but rather that the things you want to do are worth doing even when you’re not good at them because you’re just starting out. That it’s okay to stay positive when you suck.
Some people are what are called natural talents. Most of us? Not so much.
As children, it doesn’t bother most of us. We’re not supposed to be good at anything because we’re still new to the world. As adults, though, the things we fail at irk us. One little failure, and we chuck whatever we’re doing out the window. Because we’re obviously not good at it. Because it’s just too hard. Because we have no talent. Even when it’s something we’ve never done before. Isn’t that silly?
Let me tell you about something I fail at every single day. Staying positive. I stink at it. I wasn’t born positive – or maybe I was, but life knocked it out of me. There are a lot of scowly pictures of my childhood. My mom says I had to develop a prickly exterior to cope with all the yucky stuff I had to deal with as a toddler and then a kid and as a teenager, too. So I grew the prickles, then I tended them, and they rose up around me and engulfed me.
Today, I have a lot less to be prickly about and fewer worries. Fewer worries than I had as a child, isn’t that sad? But also a blessing! Unfortunately, my ability to stay positive has not evolved along with the rest of my life. So I work at staying positive, every day. And most days, I do it badly.
Without realizing it, I’ll suddenly find I’m berating myself for not amounting to anything by age 35 – how did I get this far doing so little? I’ll say something mean in my head about the driver ahead of me who didn’t signal. I’ll roll my eyes when my daughter is having a bad few hours. I’ll snipe at my husband for something relatively inconsequential that feels, in the moment, like a really freaking big deal. I’ll look at myself in the mirror and just dwell on how fat and ugly and gross the body looking back at me is.
All the babble of a mind not at peace.
But I’m working at staying positive. Especially now when things are busy because of work and Christmas and I’m extra inclined to be pessimistic. I’m doing it badly, I’ll freely admit, but it’s worth it all the same. Maybe someday I will be better at it. This thing called life. Motherhood. Being me. Maybe sometime, positivity will become my natural state. Maybe it will always be my challenge to overcome.
I don’t know what the future will bring, so when the going gets tough I’ll call my mom friends.
And I’ll do my best to smile in the here and now.