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!

Join my email list!

Sub­scribe and get access to some real­ly cool stuff!

Pow­ered by Con­vertK­it

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 96 @ 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.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge