Let’s check out a couple of things real quick that are both far too relevant in life and too often overlooked. The inspiration for this conversational post stems from a quote I heard relatively recently that has found a home in my brain:
“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
Right. It took me a couple of times saying it aloud to actually understand the question, and then it took me a few minutes to summon an actual response. I want you to think of an answer to that question, for yourself, right now. We’re going to use that example for the rest of this piece of writing. It can be big or small. Either way, it’s vital that you have something.
I’ll give you some options:
Maybe you’ve never smoked pot. Maybe you smoked pot for the first time three months ago. Maybe you’ve never lived with your significant other. Maybe you tried peanut butter on your burger last weekend and can’t believe it’s been an option this whole time. Maybe you painted your first painting, or rented your first home, or made out for the first time with a stranger at a bar, or whatever.
Just think of the last time you did something for the first time.
It may be difficult to pinpoint this experience.
Why? Because humans love comfort, and routine, and abiding by the everyday. Somewhere I read that a komodo dragon behaves as strictly as a heroin addict; both follow their exact footsteps and traverse the same landscape, at the same time, in the same fashion, day after day after week after year. We humans have built ourselves around this repetitive behavior because it’s easy and it’s safe.
But it’s also really fucking boring.
Let’s look at another thing that I love that I want you to love too:
Your comfort zone is exactly that routine life, that ease of living, that we all experience every day. Your comfort zone is the fat warden spinning the keys of enrichment, of adventure, of excitement. Your comfort zone is marrying the insurance man named John McBride and living in suburbia, driving an SUV that’s ninety six times your size and going to that job-thing every morning. That humble, american life.
I know that’s fine for some. But it kinda makes me wanna vomit.
So let’s talk about the magic.
The magic is when you say “I love you” for the first time. The magic is when you hit three 7’s in Vegas for a couple grand. The magic does not exist in your kitchen, but on the cutting board of the 5 star restaurant where you were just hired as sous-chef. The magic is rare to routine eyes and abundant to those who take 32nd home instead of the interstate. The magic takes effort and nerves and comes with that ugly feeling that everybody in the room is watching you.
The magic is best friends with fear.
Because it’s absolutely terrifying to take that first hit of your buddy’s bong. It’s frightening to risk your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant by ordering something you’ve never tasted prior. It takes balls and lady-balls alike to make the first move and smack some foreign lips under a buzzing neon light at 2:00am. It is fear and fear alone that built the walls of routine, of comfort, of John McBride.
Why the fuck is that so?
Why the fuck aren’t you playing the drums right now? Why haven’t you smoked weed yet, or jumped out of a plane, or texted her first, or asked for a raise, or taken the long way home? If we know that all of the most amazing and valuable things in our lives have happened because we broke out of our shell, then why isn’t this an every day occurrence? Simply put, why are we still afraid of the magic?
My answer: because we don’t want to suck!
Think about it: all of your colleagues (because we’re grown-ups now) invite you out to bowling night. But holy shit, you’ve never bowled in your whole life! What’s a simple Kansas girl to do? You politely decline, saying that you’ve made dinner plans with a friend who’s visiting from Houston. The gang eggs you on and tells you to bring Katherine too, but you deny yet again. In reality, you’re going home to leftover Chinese and some shitty TV show, but there’s that deep part of you that just really wants to go.
And you can feel it in your chest. Oh man, you want to go, but, excuses, yada yada, this and that.
The truth: you are afraid of sucking in front of everyone. You’re afraid of embarrassment (because who likes to be the ass of the joke?). You’re instinctively and stubbornly petrified by doing something for the first time. We all are.
But let’s take a step back and remember our lives.
At one point in your life, you sucked at walking. There was a moment that your parents will cherish eternally when you stood up on your stupid fat sausage baby legs and took a step. Then you fell down on your stupid fat sausage baby face and your parents damn near cried. That was a thing! That really fucking happened! To you! I promise!
You sucked at walking! How embarrassing.
And at another point in your life, you sucked at speaking. You said an entire word for the first time once! Can you believe it, you big stupid idiot? You couldn’t even talk as a baby! One day you just said “gaga blah blah” and dribbled all over your stupid chin, and now you drop words like “congregate” and “dietary” into cocktail party conversation without effort. Look at you go!
You also kissed somebody for the first time. And wrote your name for the first time. And went to 5th grade for the first time. And lied for the first time. And took a picture for the first time. Yes, at one point, you were the big, clunky asshat who asked “is it this big button right here?” and snapped the shutter, immortalizing a moment in time. Your entire life is made of first-time moments.
And I don’t want those moments to stop because you’re afraid of something, or someone, or some other bullshit.
Look, people. If there’s any time to suck at anything, it’s when you just started. In fact, that’s the perfect and most encouraged time to be obnoxiously terrible at whatever you’re doing. If you don’t like your job right now, quick that fucking job and get a new one, and suck amazingly at that new job. You’re allowed to! Do you know what’s embarrassing? Sucking at that job after doing it for five years. That’s why we pity Tony Romo. And on the contrary, that’s why we think the world of our son when he lugs in with his big stupid tuba and plays every single wrong note to Twinkle, Twinkle. If you want to talk to that cute chick next to you in Anthropology lecture, talk to her. You’re gonna suck at it because it’s the first time you’ve ever talked to her. Do you know what happens if you don’t? You’re sad forever. I promise.
This life is too fucking special and necessary for you to not do that thing you really want to do. And if you think that you have a good enough reason to keep living your comfortable, mediocre life, then I pity you. Wake the fuck up. Draw things. Create shit. Sing out loud. Write it down. Write.
Do it. That’s all.
P.S. I watch a fantastic blogger who made a video recently. Watch this. It’ll count as an answer to the question at the beginning of this blog: