It’s OK To Be Bad At Stuff

Of course it’s OK to be bad at stuff. Nobody (not even those friends of yours and mine who seem like superheroes) can be great at everything.

What I’m saying, though, is that it’s OK to be bad, really bad, at stuff that you are aiming to become good at. Being bad at something is not necessarily a “sign from the cosmic universe” that you should give up on that thing.

A couple of examples from my own life:

Gardening: I am awful at it! I kill plants! I buy lush, healthy vegetable, herb, and flower plants from green-thumbed people, and they wither under my care. (The plants, not the people. The people are doing fine, because black-thumbed agents of death like me keep lining up to give them money for new plants.)

I am bad at gardening … but I consider gardening absolutely necessary. So, I keep plugging away, and over the years, I have become able to grow some veggies. Also, I have become better at researching the keys to success.

Soil is the biggie! It was only recently that I actually went ahead and got a soil test done. Still waiting on the results, but it is looking like excess calcium, which is common on small urban lots (because of construction), and which is easy to fix.

Another game-changer is containers. Just about every cultivated vegetable I have managed to grow, has been in a pot. (They still look stunted and sad compared with how the veggies of my green-thumbed pals look, but at least they don’t outright die.) Now, I am taking it to the next level: My GardenTower just arrived today. It’s a nifty planter that can grow 50 veggie plants, plus a worm condo, in 4 cubic feet of space! Thus leaving more space for wildlife, and creating a convenient compact micro-farm for humans. I will shamelessly acquire a starter batch of perfectly balanced, store-bought organic soil to up my odds of success.

And regardless, I will never give up on gardening. I consider it essential. (Though I have to say, the edible wild plants grown for free in my yard by the Creator far outnumber the cultivars tended by me! I am just fine at foraging.)

Fire-starting: Who knew that a gal who at one point had a side career as a fire-dancer, would be bad at starting fires! Match after match, down the hatch, and no cooking flame to show for it. And yet — we should all know how to start a fire in case we need to. So, I got some help from my friend CB, who could be a highly successful arsonist if he so desired. (Fortunately he does not so desire.) At my most recent gathering, he fired up the Rocket Stove in short order. He was delighted to be in charge of the fire.

And, he gifted me one of those magnesium fire-starter thingees, which actually proved very easy to use! I made a fire faster than I’ve ever made one in my life. (I had actually received one of those magnesium bars as a gift some years back but it got lost in a move before I worked up the gumption to try it.) This also reminds me I should practice starting fires with my magnifying glass (solar-powered fire-starter).

Don’t let being bad at stuff (even the core skills you need for your life) stop you from practicing and improving. In retrospect, it seems like most of the things I’m bad at that I really want to be good at, were just things I gave up on too soon. Maybe the main things I’m bad at are patience and humility! Two things I will never stop working on. I do see some progress on both of those.

How about you: What are you bad at that you really want to become good or at least passable at? And what are some steps you can take to make that happen?