You Suck (The Square One Rule)

There is nothing quite like being a novice.

Humbling experience.

Take a look at my early art beginnings and see what I mean. While doing them I was hysterically laughing, wondering how I could be so bad at this.

I suck.

I’m a bit better at animals.

I’m improving?

Well, eventually you get to this which is only slightly better but not so cringeworthy.

We’re not quite there…

But here is what I learned.

The Square One Rule.

If you persist beyond your suckiness, and become proficient, develop your own style, focus on your strengths, then you will never go back to square one. If you neglect your new found ability for a few years you might be rusty but it will come back quickly once you revisit it.

But if you abandon your new venture after only one session, have long intervals between practice, then each time you go back, you’ll be at square one and never get beyond that.

Practice sucks, but pays huge dividends. Pay off quietly sneaks up on you. Something like investing $5 into your bank account every day. Next thing you know, you have savings! Or doing one push up a day. Next thing you know, you’ve got muscles and a hot body!

I encourage you, that whatever it is that you are trying as a complete suck, keep at it, because you will get better, you will become proficient and you will never have to completely suck again.

The bad news is, sometimes you will always suck at something, no matter how hard you try. Do not despair. There are plenty of things to try and be bad at, and then in the future be an expert at. We can’t excel at everything! That wouldn’t be fun or fair.

There was only one Leonard Da Vinci, don’t get cocky! Some of us are able to draw realistically. Some of us cartoons. Others caricatures. Or wacked out like a Picasso. Surreal like Dali. If you keep at it, you’ll find it. So you can’t draw people, or animals, or like me, buildings, so what? Or you just can’t draw at all. I used to bemoan this, but acceptance works better.

There have been many talented people who wanted to be something other than what they excelled at, and this is a mistake. Noble, who drew the backgrounds for Wile E Coyote and Marvin the Martian longed to be a fine artist. Leonard Da Vinci regretted that he spent so much time on science he neglected his art (and we do too, as he left behind many unfinished masterpieces).

But I digress here.

I cannot for the life of me play the piano (yet) with two hands. It is hard to blend bass scale with treble. I forget where the notes are, I mix up notes. My left and right hand argue a lot. I put note stickers on the keys. But still, I suck.

I’ve never mastered the flute beyond a few bars of Ode to Joy, or the basic scale, or page 6 in my instruction book, and I probably never will. But so what? I have fun making some squeaks. I have resumed practicing every day because I learned the ‘going back to square one’ rule. I continue to try to push myself beyond where I am because you never know. Many many times the song I follow with a toot toot toot suddenly, magically, becomes a tune. But I will never be an Ian Anderson.

The same principle applies to all endeavors. Suddenly! Suddenly there is a real face you’ve drawn. A scarf you’ve knitted. A cake you baked. A new language you can understand. A degree. Moonlight Sonata on the piano.

Keep at it.

Maybe you are our next genius.

You suck.

One Reply to “You Suck (The Square One Rule)”

  1. I love this one. You are so right about suddenly discovering that you don’t suck anymore. I once did a small baseball clinic with about thirty five year old kids who were about to begin their first year at t-ball. Each kid had at least one parent there so I had to be careful about what I said, right? Well, I was just winging it, no script to follow and no experience. I guess you could say I sucked. I got to the part where I was supposed to teach them how to catch a fly ball. I asked the question. “How do you teach someone to catch a fly?” Answer? Hit them a thousand fly balls. Problem with that is the coach doesn’t have time to hit each kid a thousand flies. Neither do most parents. So I dug in my memories of being that kid in Deep River and I remembered throwing the ball against a house or a big bus garage near home and trying to catch the rebound. I told the kids to ask mom or dad where they could throw a ball against a wall and catch it. Now do it a thousand times. Right? That’s exactly right, except that some of you will find the after 735 tosses, you discover that you’re catching most of them. I pointed at a little boy and said, “You might learn to catch after only 659 tosses.” I addressed a little girl and said, ‘and you will probably learn after only 312 tries. Some of you might even get it after less than a hundred. When you catch five in a row, go and get mom or dad and show them.” My son was only six when I discovered that he could catch. I was playing catch with him and I threw the ball a little off line and he just stuck out his glove and caught it. He didn’t suck anymore.

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