Tuesday, April 5, 2016

things i am not very good at

the other day, a sweet friend commented on facebook, "is there anything you can't do?"

um...yes.  YES!  tons of things.  here is a list of things i can't do and it is, by no measure, exhaustive:
  • pottery.  while i tend to do pretty well in the creative arts, the whole pottery wheel magic has eluded me.  i have tried time and time again.  clay is just not my medium.  this failure is evident in the bowl above.  it was intended to be a large, magnificent bowl.  but once on the wheel, i could not get the walls higher than three inches.  and the glaze job is so shoddy (and i really tried!) that i couldn't even bring myself to post a photo showing the side.  it does serve a few purposes though:  random crap collector and humility totem.
  • fried chicken.  i can cook and (sometimes) bake, but the perfect fried chicken is forever outside my wheelhouse.  
  • self-promotion.  ugh, i get a little vomit in the back of my mouth just thinking about it. someone told me once that if i liked my own posts on facebook, they would get more exposure. i don't even know what to say about that.  
  • tolerating narcissists.  and their annoying partners sycophants.  this year seems to be the year i am flooded with narcissists.  are you experiencing this too?  is it a cultural phenomenon related to trump?  it's so bad that i couldn't even watch the new season of house of cards.  i had no space left for manipulative, sweet-talking, self-centered emotional vampires.
  • keeping house.  i don't know where my lack of effort and ability in this area comes from.  i have never been in the economic position to have a housekeeper, yet i have never developed a practice of cleaning up after myself without first throwing a hissy fit (a la five-year-old me).
  • being in a work group.  ugh.  for me, group participation goes deeper than simple introvert aversion. i can't remember being in a group that didn't have drama or dysfunction.  because i am an introvert with a lot of ideas, inevitably a more vocal, insecure person in the group takes credit for my input.  for the life of me, i can't understand the appeal (well, except maybe for that person who doesn't have their own ideas).  social workers are supposed to be the champions of the group process, but the evidence just isn't there for me. i truly value, request and give credit to the input and counsel of others if i am working on a project, but i prefer to do autonomous work.
  • learning a new language.  this one makes me really sad.  i like to imagine myself speaking fluent spanish and french, but once the lessons advance to more than simple memorization of words, i'm lost.   i know that my receptive language is far greater than my expressive language (i take in way more than i can process and express) and i am highly empathic, often feeling others' feelings and "hearing" the things they are not saying.  i've wondered if all that energy impedes the process of learning good old symbolic methods of communicating.
  • telling a good joke.  i tend to start over-explaining really early on, which kind of ruins the whole thing.
  • parties.  i do like planning parties and being in small gatherings with dear friends and new, interesting humans, but any time i am forced to small-talk for more than one minute, i fail.
  • sports.  again, i wish i could.  i spent my youth trying again and again to be good at anything athletic and failed over and over.  i would love to be a runner or a tennis player or kick a soccer ball around on a field with friends, but i have learned that my physical activity abilities are pretty much limited to dancing, yoga, hula-hooping and walking in the forest.
  • i ran into a wall at this point on the list and asked ken, "what else am i not good at?"  he is a smart man (and an actor) so he just allowed a perplexed, deep thinking look to take over his face.  i asked, "...maybe patience?" and he broke role immediately with an unconstrained, emphatic "YES!"  so there you go.

even though i don't do a great job at these things, it doesn't stop me from trying new things and even revisit a few of these from a new perspective every once in a while.  

it's also important to note some things that i failed at and, because i kept plugging away at them, became things i do pretty well:  listening, painting, confidence, public speaking, photography. gardening, discerning evidence from opinion...  

it doesn't feel very good to be a failure at something, but we all know that we learn from these experiences.  as i was writing this post, my curiosity was piqued about how i could learn to tell a joke or refine my attitude toward keeping the house i love.  writing the post was oddly inspiring for me.