Thought Catalog
December 5, 2012

I Love Life, I Just Wish I Were Better At It

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What is the issue?

Life is great. Not the cereal, I actually hate that stuff. I mean waking up in the morning and doing things. That’s awesome. We’re lucky to exist, ya know? We have a chance to be alive and experience things — which is probably the most under appreciated thing in the world (right in front of breakfast for dinner). Life is beautiful and it’s a shame that it often takes near death experiences or improved circumstances for people to realize it.

I love life, even when I don’t have one. I love it unconditionally and if it were a person, I’d hug it everyday. Not the one arm, side-to-side deal either. I’m talking two arm embraces, with life’s face smothered in my chest so it leaves makeup stains on my shirt. Here’s the thing – sometimes I’m bad at life. I’m just not good at stuff and there are probably certain things you’re not good at either. From dancing, to shuffling cards, to consoling heartbroken friends, to making tough decisions, to handling yourself in a social environment – some things don’t come easy — and for some people, nothing does.

You’d think that a daily routine like showering would be a cakewalk by now, but I still get painful globs of shampoo suds in my eyes and drop soap from time to time. I misadjust the hot and cold water, then clumsily slip on my way out of the tub. Obviously in the big picture these blunders seem minor and irrelevant, but they’re a prime example of what to expect in the grand scheme of living. If the surprise-free, common day stuff can’t be mastered, how can we possibly do well with the unpredictable curve balls life is throwing?

We want to make good impressions, have the correct answers, make the best decisions, say the right things – be good at life. We all know a person or two who seem as if they’ve got it all figured out. They’ve mastered the art of living and handle everything with grace and charisma. Yes, we know nobody is perfect but do some people just act better than others? Maybe that’s the best method, to pretend and fake it ‘til you make it. But if your poker face is terrible that’s not a viable option.

Having a competitive spirit or a perfectionist’s mindset can be a blessing when bottled up and used to your advantage, or it can be a curse if those feelings uncontrollably consume you. You’ll begin to beat yourself up and feel unhappy over the slightest slip-ups. When you are your toughest critic, you have to make sure you’re at least being constructive with it. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves and become our own confidence killer, serving as a self-inflicted, belittling Internet troll to our self-esteem. Things like telling ourselves we simply suck and can’t do something right or we’ll never get the hang of it, regardless of our effort. The only way to benefit from being hard on yourself is doing so in a productive manner. Understand what you did wrong previously and use that knowledge to make improvements for the future.

For anyone who wants to be better at life, it’s important to be sure YOU are setting your bar, not other people who seem to be sitting pretty in patches of grass much greener than yours. Every time we see a headline that says something along the lines of, “18-Year-Old Entrepreneur Creates Super Successful Business From Home” we instantly cringe. We don’t read about what that youngster did and research ways to find our own success. Instead, we beat ourselves up about it. We’re angry at our past selves for slacking off, and too unhappy with our current selves to move forward. The thing is, we can’t be better if we don’t get better. Here’s why:

Procrastination is the reason for your subpar performance in school and work. Your subpar performance is the reason for you working a job you hate. A job you hate is the reason for your dreading of 5 outta 7 days every week. Your dreading of 5 outta 7 days every week is the reason for your unhappiness. Your unhappiness leads to self-loathing, the self-loathing leads to no confidence, no confidence leads to “Meh, why bother?” And “Meh, why bother?” leads to more procrastination.

It’s a vicious cycle that consists of couches, Netflix, binge Youtube-ing and ridiculous excuses. Sure, your situation may vary somewhat from that example, but if it ends with you wishing you were better at life, go ahead and have a seat in the same boat as the rest of us.

If this whole thing were to end suddenly, many of us would be disappointed. In ourselves, in our choices, in our lack of motivation. It’s hard to do your best 24-7, 365. On a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a monotonous month, we may be tired of trying to do better. We may just want to be lazy and do nothing, which is fine. It’s when every day becomes humdrum and we’re content not being better that our love for life starts dying. We’re humans, we’re flawed, we must accept our mistakes and failures along the way. That’s the beauty of this whole eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing thing. We can mess up constantly, be complete disasters and still change and prevail. In reality we’re never going to be perfect at life, but we can always aspire to be better at it. TC Mark

image – Shutterstock