You Suck….. and It’s Ok

Very few people can try out a new skill and be perfect from the start.

Sadly for my inner type A perfectionist personality, I am not one of those people.

I've tried a number of new activities lately and sucked at the vast majority of them.

But you know what? It's perfectly ok to suck at something.

The important part is having the courage to try something new, sticking with said activity- not giving up out of frustration- and watching yourself improve with time and effort. The whole “practice makes perfect” thing that your parents said to you growing up.

Of course if you're world famous football coach Vince Lombardi, just practice isn't enough. You have to have perfect practice to make perfect. Maybe that's why the Super Bowl trophy is named after him and not me. The world will never know.

I've started a ton of different activities and hobbies in the last few years. A few I've even kept going!

I play disc golf even if I'm merely ok at it.

I have a variety of hobbies waiting patiently for me to come back to them- knitting, counted cross stitch, quilting, and stained glass. Some of them are tedious (see counted cross stitch, knitting, and stained glass) and others I simply don't have the proper amount of space to work on them (quilting and stained glass).

When I started the stained glass thing, I was pretty bad. I look back at that first piece and cringe. But I kept going and improved piece by piece. I'm looking forward to being able to get back into it when I have room for an actual studio.

I'll also be the first to tell you I'm not the greatest at being a landlord or a homeowner. There's just a LOT I don't know about, and a lot of ways to mess up. Everyone has to learn some time and I'd rather learn a ton of lessons now about how not to do things than not learn them and really get hit hard in the future when I have more at stake. So far I've learned things about how to give a tenant notice (AFTER getting that month's rent!), how to deal with contractors at all stages of a project, how to stick up for myself and what upkeep on a house really looks like. I'll have a post about all this later when the contractor drama is fully resolved. CLIFF HANGER! Stay tuned 🙂

My mom and I took a weekend to build a loft for my tiny unit. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and it looks like a pile of unfinished lumber. It looks that way because it is a pile of unfinished lumber. Imagine that. I intended to build it 56″ high and instead built the bed support at 71″ high – leaving me about 2 feet of space between the surface of my mattress and the ceiling. Other than some knee and hand brushes against the ceiling, I'm doing fine. It's not a total tragedy. It's not what I meant to do, but it works. Sure, it can get a bit wobbly when I'm climbing up it or when the cat vigorously takes a bath at the foot of the bed, but it keeps the mattress off the floor and gives me some more storage space and a workstation. That's all I needed it to do. Form over function and all that.

I made a lot of rookie mistakes when it came to starting this blog. I sent some embarrassing emails, wrote bad posts, didn't have great SEO skills, and wrote some posts that were completely not related to the subject of the blog. But, I kept at it and kept writing. Now this blog is awesome!!! haha

My friend and I are starting a podcast. We recorded the first episode and compared to other podcasts out there, it's a little rough. With some careful editing we should be able to salvage it and turn it into a decent episode. We're under no illusions about our chances to win a Plutus award this year for the podcast. (Our chances are as close to zero as you can actually get without actually being true zero, in case you were wondering.)

One way to avoid making the typical rookie mistakes is to do a ton of research into the topic. I subscribed to DIY and home renovation emails, blogs, subreddits and YouTube channels before I bought my house. This was really helpful in allowing me to identify the contractor was being terrible instead of paying for truly awful work. I'm not being facetious when I say I could do better work. Anyways.

I thought about buying a multi-family property a long time before making the plunge. I read blogs, listened to podcasts, asked questions, and picked up books before talking to a realtor. A book I found particularly helpful was Investing in Duplexes, Triplexes, and Quads: the Fastest and Safest Way to Real Estate Wealth. This guy knows his stuff. I also recommend the Bigger Pockets website. They've been really helpful at answering just about any question I could come up with.

The other way to avoid making huge errors is to find a mentor for whatever activity you want to start. I know I can pick up the phone and call my mom for any issue I come across with counted cross stitch and quilting. She's been doing both longer than I've been alive and is really good at it. If there's an error to be made, chances are high she's done the same thing in the past, knows how to fix it, and can walk me through the process with minimal tears and angst on my part.

Same thing goes for this real estate stuff. I have a handful of people I get in touch with when I need advice on how to handle an issue. Usually I'm freaking out over a very small thing in the grand scheme of things and my mentors help me see that and put the issue into perspective. They've been there before. They know it's not a big deal.

I'm of course talking about ants, new appliances, and the potential for getting a lien placed on my property.

All things I freaked out about (to varying degrees) and all things my people helped me think through.

One day when I'm a seasoned landlord I'll look back on this period and laugh. I'm still too close to it right now though for anything more than a strained chuckle that I don't really mean.

So my message for you, dear reader, is this: Start something new. Today, this week, this month. Just start it. Stick with it. Laugh through the beginner mistakes. Look at what you can actually achieve when you just do it and ignore the messages your brain sends you.

Don't delay – start today!

What activity have you been wanting to start? Sound off in the comments!

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33 thoughts on “You Suck….. and It’s Ok

  1. We all suck at something! It’s natural to get deflated when you feel passionate about starting new projects and they don’t go your way. Hell, I’m a TERRIBLE sewer and just yesterday I had to put up the sewing machine in frustration. Somehow the thread kept tangling and I was going crazy. The point is that we have to keep forging ahead and learning, because that’s the only way you’ll become good at something.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! July 30My Profile

  2. Oh man, where to begin! Our big one this year was starting our blog (it was a looong time coming and we finally bit the bullet and started!), so I feel pretty happy about the fact that we actually launched and have been consistent. The thing I’d like to start doing is journaling/taking time to reflect on the day and my goals. It is so easy to caught up in the rush (full time job, family with a toddler, activities, summer fun, the list goes on) that I suddenly realize I have gone months without really taking time to think and reflect.

  3. I know a lot of people who never start something because they know they aren’t going to be good at it and are afraid of looking silly or failing, but if you ask me you’re missing out on a lot of life’s joys. Good for you for taking chances!

  4. This reminded me of the quote along the lines of: “Whether or not you think you can, you’re right.” It’s good to approach things with some grit and keep at it.

    My big activity that I’ve been wanting to start is real estate investing. I’ve been wary of jumping in because of the market. I fear that it is overvalued right now…but at least I started the other thing I had been wanting to do: my blog! I know what you mean about a “rough start.”

    I look forward to listening to your podcast! Any idea on when it will be released?

  5. Looking forward to the podcast, Gwen! Your message is timely because for a long time I’ve wanted to do some engineering consulting on the side. A friend of mine started a company and he needs some help and he reached out to me. I’m trying to determine if I have the time to spend on the project… we also have a new house that has been pretty labor intensive AND we have a little 10-month-old. I want to take it, but I’m not sure I can find the time to complete the project!!

    • Finding time is always tough. I’ve found I can’t be trusted to use my time effectively. I’ve had to make a detailed timeline of my time after work in order to fit everything in I want to.

  6. Preach it, sister! Better to have tried and failed than not try at all? That’s why I am hoping to go surfing in LA on Wednesday. I’ve never done it but I have grand illusions I’ll be good (based on semi sensicle kings like surfing in turbulence while serving drinks for the past 15 years… I haven’t spillled one yet!). At the same time, I am prepared to suck and have no issues with that. 🙂

    As for the real estate, there is always something new to learn. You’ve had a couple hiccups but you learned from them. You’ll have more and you will deal with those too. There is no end to being a landlord or owning properties because there are so many factors that are outside of your control. Knowing that helps you to smile your way through it. 🙂
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…Why I Travel Despite It Delaying FIMy Profile

  7. I have some questions I like to ask myself on a regular basis, my favorite one is: When is the last time you tried something for the first time?

    Keeps me growing, learning, and out of ruts.

    • I was reminded of trying to build a campfire from camping this weekend. Turns out, it’s easier to get small thin stuff to burn before the big logs! I thought that was a pretty good metaphor for life.

  8. I can relate to this SO much! I’m a Type A perfectionist as well – and I’m impatient – so when I don’t get something right off the bat, or if I’m horrible at it, I feel inclined to move on. But what you shared here is so true, and I experienced it first-hand with work last year. Clients approached me to do video editing work, which I had 0 experience with, and it was scary to embark on a new journey with expectations I didn’t know I could meet. If I didn’t have those expectations placed on me, I probably would have written it off and stuck with writing. Now, I look back on that and shake my head at how silly I was being.

    Everyone starts somewhere, and slow progress is normal (and okay). I’ve been trying to get better at forgiving myself and lowering the bar so that I don’t want to peace out the moment something goes awry. This was a great reminder of how important that lesson is. =)

    Also, good luck with the podcast! They’re a ton of work, but they’re also fun to create. Editing certainly helps with polish. I’m sure you’ve got contacts, but if you need any tips, I’d be happy to help.
    Erin recently posted…Prioritizing Self-Care When You Absolutely Suck at it – Part 2My Profile

    • I find it amazing the faith other people put in me, and how right they actually are! Sometimes all it takes is someone saying just start! I know you can do it! Thanks for the good thoughts for the podcast 🙂

  9. A podcast?!?! Awesome! I’ll add it to the queue.

    I fully embrace the suck. Simply because that means that it can’t get much worse. You gotta get better cause there’s no where else to go. Plus it’s fun to watch the progress.

    Always gotta just embrace the lessons.

  10. You do suck. Sorry. But hey, you’re in good company. 😉

    Let me know if I can help with any real estate questions (hope you can join the meet up on 9/6 @ Harriet’s) I’ve been at it for almost five years as a landlord here in Minneapolis. Certainly been bumps along the way, but I really enjoy it and the returns have been nice. This is all with single family homes – my far and away preference at this stage of my journey.

    As for other skills and shedding that “I suck” factor? Yeah, I hear you. We’re trying to teach the twins how to swim and play catch this summer. So far behind the other kids. Likely future bloggers like their parents.

    • I won’t be able to make the meetup on the 6th as that’s a Thursday and I wouldn’t be able to make it up after work in time. However, I am for sure going to the meetup on the 19th!

  11. The mention of finding mentors is really good advice. With the amount of knowledge out there now a days, it’s easy to feel like Youtube is a mentor or a book is a mentor, when I think about the times I’ve learned the fastest it’s with a person to learn from and be accountable to.

    • Mentors are key to my successes so far. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to doing so well without their guidance!

  12. I believe this 100%. I think people should cultivate the skills that they are best at, and try to learn a new skill. If you focus on what’s in your “stride” you stand to become the best at this, while growing with other skills.

    • Yes, good point. Existing skills shouldn’t be allowed to atrophy while you’re in the pursuit of new skills.

  13. We are currently in the process of painting the exterior of our house. My husband has a TON more experience than I do (grew up with a handy mom and now is a construction superintendent and previously a laborer). My type A self has been struggling with the fact that it doesn’t look perfect, but honestly, it looks fine once you step back a few feet. What keeps me going is knowing how insanely much we’re saving by doing it ourselves. That’s worth well more than a few drop marks and noticeable brush strokes 😉

    • I am so incredibly jealous you’re able to paint your own house. Mine needed painting but it’s 3 stories and I don’t have the equipment. Just know that you’re doing a better job than the contractors I hired- they didn’t scrape the old paint off first and then when I made them redo it, they scraped the paint off with my tenant’s brush and wire grill brush. So, because you care, you’re doing a fabulous job!

      • One of the (many) reasons we chose a smaller rambler. It makes painting / roof and gutter cleaning / etc really manageable to do ourselves.

        Scraping the paint off is part of what has taken so long! There were at least 3-4 layers of paint on the home already.

  14. Perseverance is incredibly important. To become really good at just about anything, you need to put in the time and effort. Some people have natural abilities in certain areas that give them an advantage, but eventually, if you keep putting in the time and the work, you WILL gain the expertise sooner or later. There is no substitute for experience!

    • You know, it’s funny but I wrote this article and then started to read Grit. It talks about exactly that!

  15. Practice does make perfect. No one ever started out a pro, it takes a lot of time and hard work. But learning something new keeps giving you more skills you can use later on. And no one can take that away from you. In time, you may be a mentor yourself to someone else just starting out. And on a side note, I played disk golf once. It is fun, but I am terrible even though I’m athletic lol. I’ll stick with ultimate Frisbee or other sports instead.
    Dividend Daze recently posted…Dividend Update – July 2017My Profile

  16. That’s kinda the attitude I’m going to be taking when investing in the sharemarket. I’m terrified of making a mistake, this is real money we are talking about! But bugger it. I’m going to suck, I’m going to make mistakes, I know that. I just need to learn from them!

  17. Hey, Gwen. I suck at public speaking. That’s the primary reason I started my lame YouTube channel. I want to get into the habit of speaking, and then I want to get better at it (i.e., tone down my Noo Yawk accent and eradicate the ahs at the start of every other sentence). Hopefully, I’ll be like you and landlording in a couple years. I’ll look back at early iterations of Talking Trash and cringe and marvel at all the progress I’ve made. That’s the game plan, anyway. Thanks for another great post, Gwen. Cheers.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…It’s Amazing How Much Money You Can Save When You Own Your House OutrightMy Profile

  18. Another millennial who does counted cross stitch! It is soooo tedious, but I’ve made some awesome Christmas presents for my mom.

    It’s awesome how many resources are out there to get your research done! Now is a great time to experience failure, but learn from the mistakes.

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