I wrote recently about perfectionism and I’m not ready to let go of trying to decode its perils. There’s too much hiding beneath that deceitful cloak, and while perfectionism comes in many guises, it is, ultimately, that self-hating critic in our head. As a cover for fear, perfectionism shrouds the ego with a story that has many beginnings, but ultimately one ending: if I am not perfect, then I am unworthy of love.

Someone who feels unworthy of love, has a hard time feeling a generosity of love and kindness for others. That harsh self-critic can turn into toxic criticism…


When I was writing It’s Great to Suck at Something, I kept bumping into God.

I’d set out to answer the question of why I persisted doing something for which I showed no talent yet still gave me so much joy. I figured I’d tell some stories about surfing; I would read books by, and talk to, people smarter than me. The logic followed that I would find some answers about maniacal persistence, I’d make some people laugh, and have fun along the way.

About half-way through the process, I called my agent (and dear friend) Kim to tell her…


I walked by a woman wearing a t-shirt the other day with big, bold type that read, “I DON’T DO MEDIOCRE.” I felt badly for her. Can you imagine the pressure she puts herself under every day? Trying our best is awesome. Claiming our infallibility is absurd.

It got me thinking about the excuse I hear most often for not sucking at something. It’s some version of: “I couldn’t enjoy something I’d suck at because…” [insert nervous laugh here] “…I’m such a perfectionist…” How many of you have heard (or said) something like this? I’m such a perfectionist. It’s practically…


Since the launch of It’s Great to Suck at Something in May, I’ve had dozens of conversations — with radio hosts, podcasters, journalists, at events — and in almost every instance there is a slightly nervous entry to the conversation. “Why would you want to suck at something?” Or, “How could sucking at something be a good thing?” I understand. These are sensible questions to what seems a nonsensical suggestion. The idea of sucking at something makes us uncomfortable. And while my book goes a long way to give answers to those questions, there’s something I left out entirely.

Daring…


With all the warnings about curiosity, you’d think it was a thing to avoid. It killed the cat, but with nine lives, she has some to spare. Not so for we clumsy bipeds. We’re taught to mind our own business. Don’t ask questions and nobody gets hurt. At the very least if you ask no questions, no one will tell you any lies. In every horror movie ever made, it’s the most curious — read: the most clueless — who are the first to get the axe. The message is clear. Be curious at your own risk. …


In a recent New York Times Opinion piece, I wrote about work-life balance. About how work can creep into parts of our lives best left separated from our professional striving. In this striving, we can forget to play, and it’s play, not work, that makes us human. I was, of course, talking to myself. I can suck at maintaining a work-life balance. In the piece, I recount one of the most enlightening conversations of my life, one I had with my son Gio when he was just a kid.

“Mama, why do they make you work so hard?” he asked.


I have a photo of my teenage son, Gio, smiling ear to ear as he stands with his arm around his hero Bruce Springsteen after seeing his Broadway show. Gio is wearing a threadbare, forty-years-old, once-was-black-but-now-is-gray Darkness On the Edge of Town concert tour t-shirt. Springsteen’s bemused expression and pointing finger say it all. “This kid, wearing that shirt?!” That’s staying power.

Thirty-three years earlier, on a sunny fall afternoon in 1985, as I was walking on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I heard someone call out from across Broadway: B-R-U-U-C-E! like the call the uninitiated mistake for booing…


“Nobody wants this! We’re all supposed to be fucking professionals!”

That’s Mr. Pink’s plea while freaking out as guns are pointed and drawn in the stand-off scene in Reservoir Dogs. Joe points his gun at Mr. Orange, already lying in a pool of blood. Mr. White pulls his gun at Joe telling him he’s got the wrong guy. Nice Guy Eddie aims his pistol at Mr. White while he calls for a meeting: “Let’s settle this with a fucking conversation.” Reasonable advice.

The scene does not end well.

I often refer to this tragi-comedy moment in situations where something goes…


When I enter into a conversation with people about sucking at something, I am often met with a nervous laugh. I understand — it is kind of a funny idea, this suggestion to suck at something on purpose, or at least, with purpose. The initial awkwardness that it arouses often leads to questions. Primarily, why? Why would we embrace our suckitude? Because…there are so many good things hiding in that space between doing something we love and letting go of our need to excel at it.

Here are some reasons why it’s great to suck at something:

  1. It releases us…

There are few tasks that get us acquainted with sucking at something as quickly as cooking. I’ve spent a lifetime learning how to navigate the mysteries of making delicious food, but it’s only recently, after nearly forty years of cooking regularly, that I feel completely at ease in the kitchen. Cooking is not something I suck at, so you might think it’s off limits for the purposes of a suck-at-something life. But even though I’ve earned hard-won facility in the kitchen, I can still cook like a kook. That’s true even for chefs. …

Karen Rinaldi

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