I constantly say things that I don’t mean. Well, it’s not that I don’t mean them, it’s that I don’t understand what they mean when I say them. I like to have an answer for things. I like to know how I feel about something. I’m very opinionated, although if you described me as opinionated I would say that was rude. It sounds negative, even though I don’t like people who aren’t opinionated. See, like why did I say that? I just DECLARED that I do NOT like people who aren’t opinionated and while it was coming out of my fingers I remembered that one of my best friends Lexi (@LEXIJO8) is very unopinionated and I would be so happy being stuck on a deserted island with her. I’m filled with lies. My feelings start feeling before my brain starts thinking. I just think that I know so many things that I don’t know yet.
I always tell people that I’m not competitive. “Oh, I’m just not a competitive person,” that’s how I say it. I learned to say that I’m not competitive early in my life when I realized that I was really bad at many things. I was never someone that people would refer to as someone who “does everything well”. In fact, I became known for my failures. I think that’s when I started leaning on being funny. See, I had a sister, I still have her (can’t get rid of her) who was just a year and a half older than me and was one of those irritating people who did everything well.
We were put on the same club soccer team for six straight years. Every single year she made it to the All Star team. Every year I did not. In fairness to the coach, whenever he put me in the game I would get really overheated and my face would turn red and I would mouth to him, “TAKE ME OUT.” It was just too damn hot out there. After a game of less than mediocre performance from myself I would think, well it’s not like I want to be a professional soccer player, I just like hanging out with my cool sister and our neighbor who’s on the team, and I love the orange slices that my mom keeps cold on the side lines. It stopped bugging me that I was bad.
Soon I would discover that I was also alarmingly bad at tennis (also takes place in the heat), running, swimming, tag, softball… and it wasn’t just sports. I was also terrible at Math, Science, listening, focusing, spelling, testing, and remembering. Oh, then there is the story of my piano lessons. See, my dad is a musician. Like, a really good one. He has a weird savant thing where he was playing piano at three and has perfect pitch, and all these things really should be genetic. So, he had me take piano lessons. We wanted to see if there was possibly some genius lurking inside of me. So, I took the lessons after school for months. Honestly, I didn’t like it. But I loved the idea that maybe there was a secret talent hidden in me and maybe it would just come through my fingers without me having to really do anything. I was expected to perform a recital. So, I prepared the song I was going to play and my dad came to watch. I remember this so clearly. I finished the song without any obvious mistakes, and I noticed my dad standing in the back of the auditorium. I walked right up to him. He patted me on the shoulder and said, “Well, you can quit piano lessons. You don’t have it.” I felt two things in that moment. Relief and shame. I don’t think I need to explain to you why I felt those. When I tell that story to people they seem to view my dad as a bit of a monster, but I don’t see it that way at all. When he was a kid he felt like he would die if he didn’t play music. He broke his hand once when he was little and was instructed to not play piano for six weeks. He didn’t know how to stay away from it though, so he kept playing, and the cast had to keep getting moved up further on his arm to stop him from playing. I didn’t feel that way about piano. He wanted me to go find the thing that I would keep doing even if someone said I couldn’t do it anymore.
As an adult, that lower than average rating on most things taught me to save face by saying I’m not competitive. In other words, it’s okay with me that I’m bad at this. But now when I say it, there is a little voice in my head who keeps me honest and she’s like, “Honey, who are you kidding?” So, I have to amend it now. I realized as an adult that there are actually things I’m good at. Now, I’m not going to list them because we all know some of the obvious ones. I see now that when it comes to the things I’m good at and care about, I am DEFINITELY competitive. I mean, if you’re a girl around my age and you come up with an idea that is so simple, but I didn’t think of it and YOU did?! It’s gonna take me a few days to be happy for you. I’ll get there, but first I will say ” I could have come up with that”, and then I will come to terms with the fact that if I could have come up with it, then why didn’t I? I’m honestly starting to think that a huge part of success is literally just DOING something. The fear I have to follow through on something is so intense. What if it’s bad? What if someone reads it and says, “Erin, have you ever considered that you are just bad at this?” And I would say, “YES, many times!” I always want to be in on the joke if someone is going to say I suck at something. I want to reject you before you reject me, just in case. But I think I’m doing it wrong.
I watched this famous movie the other night, The King Of Comedy. Now, let me be clear, because I know you are thinking right now that I am so much radder than you even imagined for sitting at home on a Saturday night and watching a Scorsese/DeNiro film from thirty years ago. It came about when I was having lunch last week with a friend and he made some joke that I didn’t get. But I didn’t want him to know I didn’t get it, so I laughed. Then he said, “You know, from The Kind Of Comedy!” And I just did one of those half laughs where you avoid eye contact and try to play off that you know what the person is talking about. I think I did a bad job because he said, “You’ve never seen The King Of Comedy?!” I said something vague like, “Oh, yeah, I know it, I think I maybe saw it a long time ago…” Then he went on about how amazing it is and i wrote myself an email with the subject, “WATCH THE KING OF COMEDY, YOU IDIOT”. So, I did. And this is the message I got from it…
If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else is going to. I’d rather be considered crazy, than not considered at all. Being cool and aloof and protective of yourself is a great way to never take chances and never fail and never succeed. You have to be willing to fall on your ass and have people laugh at you. You don’t have to enjoy it, but be willing to take the chance that it could happen. So what? So, someone says you suck. What makes them the authority on what’s good? You have to believe it. You have to know that you have something to say that is unique. If you are passionate about yourself for long enough, people will start to doubt their own opinion and cling on to yours. I swear to you, someone could convince me of almost anything if they stuck to their story long enough. Walk out in the world today really feelin’ yourself. Like, REALLY feel yourself. Nobody knows what they are talking about. Except for me. I’m a MAD GENIUS.
Featured image via Shutterstock