February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
To become who you want to be:
You cannot simply be. You cannot arrive immediately at the place where you have always wanted to go. The path is not straight. There are not manuals. There are trials and errors and boulders. There are even mountains. There are trees to chop down and rivers to cross and detours. Lots and lots of detours.
It isn’t a straight shot. You cannot proclaim yourself to be, and simply be that thing. You have to fight for it. You have to push hard, and rest hard, and cry sometimes, then laugh louder than you cried to make up for it.
We don’t know everything. We barely know anything. You have to ask stupid, stupid questions to find out the simple, simple answers. And then sometimes you forget those answers and mess up. And when you mess up, you learn again what the answer was and eventually it will stick. A child is not born that knows everything, you must teach that child how to know to eat and calm themselves and not to touch hot things and to speak softly in libraries.
Imagine how that child feels when they try something for the first time- remember learning to tie your shoes? It took tens, hundreds of tries to tie your shoes. You were given rhymes and instructions and long periods of time in which your parents were late for dinner parties because you had to try to tie your shoes yourself.You messed up and remembered that that way didn’t work, and eventually you got the rabbit into the hole and figured it out.
And now, you still know how to tie your shoes. Because you asked questions and practiced and pushed yourself and learned.
You cannot simply know. You have to be taught. You have to learn. You have to try and fail and try and fail, and sometimes do that alot. I know everyone says this, but it’s true.
I say this because people are scared to try. We don’t know, so we don’t try. At what age does that kick in? At what age do the words “I don’t know” find their way into our vocabulary, and we stop crying to our parents to give us more time to learn to tie our shoes?
Failure is not stupid. I don’t care who says it is. Failure is not stupid. To try is brave. You probably won’t do everything right the first time. Probably not even the second. But the 50th time you do it, you’ll feel pretty good. And by the 2000th, you’ll feel ready to tell someone else. And by the 5000th you get awards because you’re so good. But you will absolutely 100% never get to that award if you don’t try it the first time and the second time and keep doing it the third.
Someone may even tell you to stop because you didn’t do very well the first time. Ignore them. Someone else may say you aren’t “naturally inclined” for that thing, or that you lack the talent. But smile, and walk away, and stop talking to those people. The only people you should talk to are the ones who teach you what you did wrong, who encourage you to try again, and those who remember what it feels like to fail. It feels bad. You might cry. Your mind will tell you to quit. It will say everyone thinks you’re stupid and you can’t do this thing. Tell it to take a flying leap, and tell yourself you will succeed. It’s hard to do at first, to not think you’re a failure, but you aren’t. You are a trier. A doer. A learner. And eventually your mind will catch up with you.
And don’t forget what it feels like to fail. Never stop trying new things. If you ever feel like you are complete, that you know it all, go take a french class or feed orphans or try to build a tall building by hand. Because you need to remember to learn. And remember what it feels like to fail sometimes. And then go talk to the person who feels like a failure, tell them what they did wrong, encourage them to try again, and tell them you remember what it feels like to fail.
You need to be in life. You have something you want to be, and you should be it. And if you decide, once you get there, that wasn’t what you wanted to be, that’s okay. Just find something else to be, and be it. Because we should never stop trying to be what we want to be. Climb mountains and drink rivers and fall into holes and sprain your ankle then get up, go to the doctor, and try again. Keep trying and failing and trying and failing. And be.