I’m writing a book and some days I suck at it.
I’m not degrading myself. I’m only introducing you to an old friend who is brilliantly inept and delightfully unskilled at everything.
Meet my inner novice. She would like to come out of the closet.
Attempting to be perfect at everything, I’ve spent years trying to hide her from the world. I’ve bullied her out of my life. All she wanted was to help me be myself and do my best in the most relaxed way possible. Shoving her aside, I had my eye on perfection. Despite being ignored she never gave up on me, helping me make small and big mistakes with gusto.
This is my public apology.
Without the novice’s willingness to fall flat on her face, dive into the unknown, and ultimately -to suck- I wouldn’t have taken risks in my life. I’d have kept doing the stuff I was experienced at, over and over again, and bored myself to death.
It’s time to give the novice some respect.
The novice is ridiculous, silly and a lot of fun at parties. Using words like ‘I don’t know’ shamelessly, she pities the know-it-alls; they make her yawn. She’s a great listener and fascinated by other people’s stories. She’s constantly learning, and her creativity is endless. Embodied and bold, she lives from the neck down. She sings, dances and makes art without any formal training. She’s a little impulsive, but people love that about her. She makes tons of mistakes, and doesn’t hide any of them. She still finger-paints. She’s inexperienced and she doesn’t care.
The mystery is her security blanket.
She gets on my inner experts’ nerves, but they work it out. When my expert tries to have the last word, the novice laughs and says ‘whatever’. She speaks her truth but unlike the expert, she isn’t attached to anyone hearing it.
Which one do you think has more fun?
Writing a book has been interesting. The novice is really present. Just when I think my ideas are solid, another angle reveals itself. Each chapter walks straight into my personal life and tests me to see if I’m for real. My carefully crafted deadlines get delayed and my confidence is tested over and over. Some people think writing about truth means I think I’m Plato -the novice gets a good laugh out of that one. It’s a crazy train; I thought I was the conductor but I’ve discovered I’m a passenger.
Anything could happen.
When excellence is getting me nowhere, I holler for the novice. She has no clue what to do, and we sit together. She laughs at the idea of outcomes, and scoffs at 5-step solutions. She reminds me of my intention instead.
“Think perpetual kindergarten,” she says with a grin.
We don’t have to be 5 years old to cultivate innocence. We can claim novice status in any area of life, at any age. We can be in a job for years and suddenly become the novice on a new project or a change in role. We can have three kids, but some days have no clue what we’re doing. We can kiss the same person for a decade and wake up one morning not knowing who they really are. We can be a novice about money at age 50, or a novice about love at 80. We can be 55 and wondering what we’ll be when we grow up. We can become a novice at life overall – ‘what am I here for, anyway?’
The mystery is meant to be the playground.
When you are burning to get ahead this month, I highly recommend slowing down and taking a casual stroll with the novice. She has a way of opening things up and creating more space. With mercury retrograde until Oct 25th, it’s the perfect time to curl up with that part of you that doesn’t have a clue.
Here are some journal prompts to help you hone the novice touch. They go exceptionally well with a cozy blanket and tea:
1) This is a time in my life when I don’t know…
2) Sometimes I think I’m supposed to be perfect at…
3) Other people expect me to…
4) I used to think…
5) What feels solid and true for me now is…
6) My inner novice wants to say…
7) I recommit to loving myself, even when I…
Owning our ineptitude is liberating. We are perfectly imperfect, exactly as we are, doing the best we can in each moment. We are exactly enough. The secret of the novice touch is to claim it with confidence. Stop hiding her away and be proud of the muckiness of life. Challenges pass more quickly this way.
I’d love to hear what your novice is up to lately. What part of your life feels like perpetual kindergarten?
Remember that you too can suck at whatever you put your mind to. I’ll be right there with you, making my own little (and big) messes over here.