A video featuring the wise words of Ira Glass has been floating around my Facebook feed where is giving a commentary as only Ira can about the creative process and how we all suck at the beginning of any creative endeavor and just have to plow through until we get good. A friend of mine wisely paraphrased it as The Rules of Suck.
Last week I was reminded of The Rules of Suck when I was running through beautiful Northwest Portland. For those of you who don’t live here, NW Portland is beautiful but very hilly and I had to run up those hills for two miles during my weekly running group long run. My lungs complained, my legs complained and bad thoughts and four letter words went through my head when the marathoners passed me when I caved and walked up part of the hill.
When I got to the 1.5 mile mark, I stopped and watched the other runners and considered my fate. I could turn around and go back and no one would know, or I could keep huffing, panting and swearing for another half mile. About that time another fellow runner in my group ran by and told me I was doing a good job. I figured this was a sign from the Universe so I took a deep breath and walked and ran the last half mile before I turned around.
As expected, the downhill part was easy and gave me time to review my performance. Of course I immediately went to everything I did wrong: my sore muscles, my tight legs, etc. until a voice that sounded a lot like my mom’s said, “What about all the things you did right? You didn’t short your run and who cares if you walked? You FINISHED.”
Insert stunned, sweaty Anna here.
As I trotted back down the hill I realized The Mom Voice was right: If I want to be better and stronger I was just going to have to embrace the suck. The perfectionist in me HATES that but the sensible part of my brain knows I have to keep moving forward to get better at anything I do. I will never be Steve Prefontaine nor will I have has fabulous 1970s ‘stache but I can celebrate my victories no matter how small and embrace the suck until I can run up those damned hills without stopping. And when I do, you’ll be the first to know.