It is Okay to Feel Terrible
How to learn from our weaknesses…
I was in 3rd grade, and we had a singing competition. Was it my childhood naivety or lack of honesty from my parents about my singing capabilities? I don’t know, but I went for it.
I got up on the podium, and the entire class watched. I started singing, or making random sounds might be an accurate description. I could see the disgust on my classmate’s faces, and before I could go very far, the judge asked me to stop.
Instead of telling me I didn’t make it, she told me it would be better for everyone if I didn’t participate in the future. That was the last time I ever took part in a singing competition. That hurt me so much that I never dared to work on it. I thought it was something beyond I could address in my life. As an adult, I agree, I am terrible at singing, I am off-key, and it’s not something I can do well.
In today’s world, everyone is obsessed with tripling down on strengths. It asks us to focus on what we are great at and forget the rest. When I was young, I was encouraged to focus on what I was good at for co-curricular activities, and that makes sense. We all have good things, and we are better off doing that for long-term prosperity. I know I died in poverty if I had focused on singing as my primary career.
Yet, looking at the world from this lens is myopic. We as humans have diverse interests. We are generalists in the truest sense of the word and as much as strength is part of you, so are your weakness.
You can’t give up on the part of yourself, even if the entire world does.
The harmful effects of this extend well beyond. You start to hate the self that isn’t able to match up to your standards. You say if I was also good at this or if you can just pluck out the weakness. You stop doing that activity completely, get embarrassed when someone mentions it.
And to what end would you keep doing this? Filtering out parts of you till very little of it is left.
What can you do?
After 20 years or so, I started singing more and more when I felt like it. I would try to do it in private, not subject other folks to the torture, but I realized I enjoyed singing at times, which was part of me. Come on, admit that you also love humming your favorite song or singing out love when you feel merry.
Yes, I could have worked on my singing to become decent at it, but it was a leisure activity, which I did here and there without any plan of getting better.
It’s okay to accept that you aren’t going to ace every single area in your life. It allows you to accept yourself, your entire yourself. Not the part you love but the one you don’t like; you get to know it and realize it’s something irreplaceable.
I am not saying that you don’t work on your weakness. If you want to improve, you can work on it, but don’t feel obliged to do so.
In the end, if you ever pass by my house, you might hear me singing the Pokémon theme. It might sound terrible, but if you give it a listen, you’ll see a kid whose happy about being able to sing without judgment or worry.