It’s frustrating being bad at things. It’s infuriating. The insecurity inside me of anyone seeing my work in its premature state makes me a little bit antsy, no matter how much I trust the person. However, at some point along the way we’ve all been terrible at everything we do. Every single one of us didn’t know how to not poop our own pants for years. However, in the following years we begin to have our worth, our value, our perception of ourselves shaped by the measurement of the quality of what we produce. Our merit is what we’re told makes us valuable.
We are told there is a bar, an expectation, and goal that we’re supposed to achieve that makes us acceptable as adequate. Perfection becomes the idol that we strive to please, yet rarely achieve. In school, taking risks isn’t praised but is actually wrong, because our course is set for us and all we’re supposed to follow it through obedience. If we’re not behaving, we’re reprimanded. We subject huge stretches of our formative years to the scrutiny of our academic system that is supposed to make us into the best version of ourselves, however it really just accentuates within us the fear of failure. Not being good enough, is something we believe so strongly about ourselves that we may not even realize there could be an alternative.
This has been most challenging for me as someone who’s chosen a creative job, and my entire purpose is to create things that have never existed before. The pursuit of a good idea is really difficult and batting 1000 is essentially impossible. If I’m honest, the thing I need to be doing most is pursuing bad ideas, because in those bad ideas, lie some good ones—amongst the good ones, there might even be a great one. But bad ideas are bad, right? We’re expected to keep those to ourselves, for fear of ridicule and laughter from our peers and managers. But what if we have to get those out of the way as we dig for great idea? What are we so afraid of?
Bad ideas are the key to great ideas. Even when it comes to painting, drawing, graphic design, skateboarding, whatever you want to be great at—you have to be comfortable in sucking terribly before you can be great. You have to be willing to push through the potential embarrassment of being wrong, in order to eventually be right. You have to be terrible before you can be great.
I’m feeling this the most with drawing right now. My understanding of form is awful, my ability to capture emotion is pathetic, my ability to communicate movement is a struggle at best, but it’s worth it because if I can eventually be comfortable with being terrible, I might eventually get better. If I get better, I might eventually get good—and that,is the goal. I can’t be great now, I have to terrible first. I have to push through, even though it goes against everything I’ve been taught.