I also don't like practicing things.
As you can imagine, this makes for a problematic combination.
This past week I came face-to-face with the reality that I'm not perfect. And it was hard.
However, after thinking about it a lot today, I realized that life is all about practicing. Life is a series of opportunities to practice being your best self. No one expects you to get everything right, every time. That's what makes us human. It's impossible to know exactly what you're doing all the time.
And that's okay.
With that, here are a few things that I will get better at, with practice:
I don't know how to be in a healthy relationship. That's the truth, and one that I have come to accept. Relationships are something I am far from perfect at. Because of this, I am very wary of what my relationship-future will hold. To be honest, I'm terrified of relationships. They've never worked for me. I've been hurt. Badly. And each time I've gotten into a new one, thinking things will be different, I found out that nothing has changed. That being said, I can learn how to be in a healthy relationship. My future is not hopeless -- I just have to practice! I'm not good at it, and honestly, I probably won't be for a while. But my fear of relationships doesn't have to hold me back from them. I can practice my boundaries one interaction at a time, knowing that it's okay if I don't get it exactly right for a while. Practice makes progress, not perfection.
As a kid, I loved to dance. I took tap dance, ballet dance, modern dance, jazz dance and irish dance, I don't think I was ever really very good, but I truly loved to do it. A month ago, I took up tap dancing again, and I've fallen in love all over again. Most of what I learned as a kid has come back to me, and I really do love getting my sweat on in class (read my friend Emily's most recent blog post here about how awesome sweating is), but the reality is i'm still not very good. Guess what! I will get better with practice! I may not get that step right the first time, or the second time, or even the 50th time, but life isn't about the end result, it's about the process (because spoiler alert: the end result is you're dead). So why not enjoy the ride, and stop trying to always get everything right the first time.
To follow up on the dance theme, I'm really bad at exercising habitually. I go to dance class once a week, sure, but that's an organized class that I paid for and I love, so it doesn't feel like exercise. (Although admittedly, even making sure I get to that class every week is sometimes hard). I also do some yoga, but again, nothing routinely. I really want to change this, and get into a reliable, regular and satisfying exercise routine. And I'm getting there, but it's really hard. Today, I was moping around, feeling angry at myself for being bad with habitual exercise, when I realized that habits are also something that come with practice. I'm not going to wake up suddenly one morning and have a new habit. Habits take a long time to form. So I took a breath, reminded myself that I'm on my way there and to trust the process. (And then I sat down to write this post.)
4. Mental health
I have generalized anxiety disorder. It is something that I've lived with for as long as I can remember, but only started treating a few years ago. The process of coping with and understanding my anxiety has been a long and unpredictable one, and I often have moments of frustration at myself for not being "over it" already (which, I'm fully aware isn't a possible thing). I have days where something triggers my anxiety and I sit there like "I thought I dealt with this, why is my anxiety back?" and I wonder if all the hard work I've done has just gone out the window in a single instant. The truth is, living with a mental illness takes practice. It's something I have to diligently work on every day, And because it takes practice, I'm not going to get it exactly right every day. The thing to remember about practice, though, is that results are sometimes hard to see, even if they truly are there. Think of it like a young child. Kids are constantly growing -- though the kid might not think so himself, when family sees him for the first time in a few months, it's extremely noticeable. It's like that. Sometimes, day-to-day progress is hard to track, especially if you're looking at your own progression. But the outside world can see it, and if you take a step back and think about how far you've come since the beginning...you are making progress.
5. Living minimally
This weekend I went shopping, and bought things I didn't need. I haven't done that in a while, and it didn't feel so great after I did it. (I have a pair of shoes I bought from a thrift store that felt fine at the time I bought them but now I think are too small...) Again, like with my exercise thing, I was pretty angry at myself for doing that. I kept thinking, "But you were doing so well!" Progress is often two steps forward and one step back. And that's normal. Again, I haven't mastered minimalism yet. This is still something I'm learning, and of course I'm going to make mistakes. What's important to remember is that even a step back in the name of practice is a step in the right direction. I learned from the process, and I'm better for it.
The bottom line is this: Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect. (Hannah Montana throwback, anyone?) But if you look at life as opportunities to practice being the best person you can be, then things become a little less black and white, Suddenly, every moment, every opportunity is a gift, given to you precisely when you need it most.
Even if that means making a mistake.
Do you have things you are practicing? How do you deal with the frustration of making mistakes? I would love to hear about it!