So my husband helped me realize something lately: things that suck are usually the most rewarding.
Now, this may be said for those longer, drawn out sucky times in our lives--they usually end up being a part of our lives for a reason, and often people credit challenging times in their life for providing life-changing lessons and opportunities to grow. While I agree with this, this isn't something we usually can--or want to--choose, nor do we plan for them. And of course there are small every day things that suck that we can't really avoid (raking leaves, I'm lookin' at you!); that's not what I'm talking about either. What I'm talking about here are the situations we pretty much know ahead of time are going to suck and we can choose to either avoid them or choose to do them, plain and simple…
You are probably at this point thinking, "yes, I choose not to do things that suck…..Isn't this normal?!?!" Most of us tend to avoid things that suck day in and day out…and some of us pride ourselves on how good we've gotten at avoiding them and sticking to our comfort zone.
Recently, this came up because I have just endured a few things that kinda sucked. First of all, my husband somehow roped me into laying the flooring of our new kitchen. Now, I am not a handy person. Not only do I not have much experience doing things that require being handy (mainly because I avoid them), but I also am not very patient or precise. So when I agreed to help with this floor, I knew it was going to suck. Well, guess what!?! I did it, and it did indeed suck. I was on my hands and knees all day spreading glue and laying flooring planks, my hands and arms were covered in glue, dirt from the floor got stuck to said glue on my hands, my back ached and I was starving all day because I couldn't eat with dirty glue hands. But, afterwards (and still almost a week later) I'm really proud of myself and feel super empowered. I realized that, god damnit, I really can do anything I set my mind to.
I also just started at my local CrossFit box. Anyone who has done CrossFit knows it kinda sucks during the workout, but afterwards you feel like you could lift a car and throw it across the goddamned street. I haven't joined a CrossFit gym since we moved back to Milwaukee…I have instead been doing CrossFit WOD-like workouts by myself at a 'normal' gym in town. Clearly I haven't been pushing myself as hard because this week was total hell. On Thursday, I have never endured a workout that sucked that bad, but I also have never felt so good, so empowered and so motivated to continue after a workout before.
Now, these were relatively small sucky situations. But there are all sorts of other sucky situations that we tend to avoid, yet are probably exactly what we should do.
Conversations we should have with our boss about getting a raise. A speaking or networking engagement where you don't feel super confident. Signing up for a dating site. Agreeing to do that 5K with your friend. Signing up for a workshop or class. Changing our eating habits. Tackling a new project. These are all things that are probably outside of our comfort zone and we say, "eh, no thanks!" to them.
If this sounds like you, I want you to think about is: how this is serving you? Then, I want you to think about why you avoid things, and why you perceive them as 'sucky'? Are they too hard, too boring, too awkward, or too scary? Usually, unless you're just super lazy, it boils down to fear, and it's all in our heads. We fear the unknown, the potential failure or ridicule or rejection we may face, the possibility that we'll feel bad. Even just stupid stuff, like fearing that we'll be too cold, too hot, too uncomfortable, too sweaty, too old, too young….
You see, these are all just things that we are convincing ourselves of, yet we really have no basis for since they haven't happened yet! Unless you can see into the future, then you really have no idea, and just because something went down a certain way once does NOT mean that is how it has to happen in the future. I have screwed up so many 'home improvement' projects, but guess what? This time, I kicked ass at installing a floor, and now I have a new perspective on tackling projects of this nature.
And therein lies the beauty of pushing ourselves to choose the things we fear may suck: when we start pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, challenge our status quo and confront our fears, things that used to suck will start to suck less and, dare I say, may become easy! In other words, our "suck threshold" shifts. But we won't know unless we try.
So, go and do things that scare you, that challenge you, and that push you to your limits (mentally and physically) and I guarantee you, it will be at worst a learning opportunity and at best life changing.
The next time someone you haven't seen in a while asks you, "What's new?," I hope you're able to tell them all about some juicy new stuff you've accomplished by simply choosing a few things you thought would suck.