By: Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor
“I suck at business,” said Michelle.
“Me too,” I said. “Wait, are we supposed to not suck at business? Neither one of us are business people.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said, looking even more miserable.
“Wait, do you WANT to be a business person?” I asked.
“God no!” she said, with barely a blink of hesitation. We looked at one another, my best friend and I, and fell into one of those belly-loud laughing fits, the kind that made people around us lift their eyes from their computer screens and pop out an ear bud in curiosity or annoyance, or both.
It was absurd. This conversation we were having so earnestly about something that, truthfully, neither one of us got, wanted, or even remotely had any inclination to learn about. Michelle is a talented and gifted artist who is working on building her own design line. She’s already had several successes and met more than one personal milestone, but it all seemed greyed out by this funk, this business about business, which was really just a placeholder for that brain Gremlin that hisses, “You’re not good at EVERYTHING? What’s WRONG with you? You’re the worst!” And then sometimes it does a little dance to Rebecca Black’s “Friday” just to be really annoying. *Shrug* Don’t ask me, it's a Gremlin thing.
As a life-long-type-A-overachieving-feminist, I get that this is a hard lesson to learn. We feel indebted to the many women (and plenty of dudes) who elbowed history out of the way on our behalf to give us opportunities and access to everything. As such, it’s easy to spoon with the myth that second best is not an option, that anything short of world domination (whatever that means to you: being great at chess or personal finances) is as unacceptable as another Sex and The City movie. Nope o’clock, you say. Not gonna happen.
I can also testify to the nuclear amounts of energy poured into wanting (sometimes desperately, like contemplating swapping vital organs for this or that skill, desperately) to do everything well, not even the best, but just good, well, solid. But here’s the thing, tootsie pop, that energy you exerted trying to do something well that is just not panning out, comes back in whole universes when you OWN your suck factor.
It’s giddily liberating to declare: “I SUCK AT THIS!!” Go ahead. Have at it. I’ll wait. Didn’t that feel amazing? Wasn’t it THE next best thing to eating Nutella-stuffed waffles in bed while binge watching episodes of Veronica Mars? But here’s the thing, dollface, you must play your “I suck at this” card for good only. You cannot, I repeat, WILL NOT, use it to really mean: “I suck as a person. I suck at life. I just plain suck.” No, no, no. With great sucking power comes great sucking responsibility! You know who actually DID suck at life? Hitler. And sorry to tell you, you are no Hitler.
“I suck at this” is a statement of freedom. It is releasing you from the responsibility that just because you CAN do it all (and you can) means you WANT to do it all. It checks your ego at the door so that you don’t make the mistake of believing that lack of skill equates with lack of self-worth. Most importantly, it opens you up to collaboration and connection. Find the person who doesn’t suck at that thing and get with them, stat! Hire them, hang with them, make them one of your besties so that you can celebrate (and maybe profit from if that’s the case) their awesome expertise, their amazing tricks of the trade, their gift. Enjoy basking in their unsuck to appreciate their differences as well as yours. Owning your suck is power and strength because it let’s you stop wasting time on an empty goal so you can work on shaping the muscles of your real passions and talents.
Be good at a bunch of things—cooking, coding, singing, soccer, butter sculpting—suck at others—basketball, knitting, flipping houses, butter sculpting—knowing that at the end of the day, the only thing you really have to excel at is just being you.
Sheila is IATG's Senior Editor. She is a Boston-based writer and amateur photographer enthusiast. Sheila is also a comedy junky and pretty sure that if Amy Poehler and Tina Fey would just return her calls, they would all be super besties.