Why it’s OK to be bad at something new

I hate the term “overnight success”, don’t you? It’s never accurate, in fact statistically speaking, it takes around ten years for most of those people we deem “successful” to reach the point in their careers of being touted as an overnight success in the media.

That’s crazy, right? To have worked your arse off for a decade, grown your skills, built your brand and earned your success – only for it to be immediately reduced and belittled by the press who call it “overnight”, as though you hadn’t been killing it for years before you became a household name.

It not only completely disparages all the hard work of the successful individual, it also gives a completely false impression of achieving goals and getting recognition to those of us still reaching for that unreachable star. The concept of an overnight success can cause us to give up before we make it, because we start to believe that if it was meant for us – or worse, if we were “good enough” – then surely we would have made it by now?

But that just isn’t the case. If you want something, and you’re willing to work HARD for it, then there’s every chance you can achieve it. I’m obviously speaking from a place of privilege (as a white woman from a nuclear family with a parent who went to university before me), and I know that my experience isn’t everyone’s, but I want to believe that anyone can be who they want to be and do what they want to do. I want to live in a world where that is true, and I will fight alongside anyone who is working towards their big goal, whatever that may be.

How to be OK with sucking at something new

  1. Remember, there’s no such thing as an “overnight success”. Keep trying, keep aiming for your goal and don’t give up.
  2. Read more biographies and autobiographies about people you admire – you’ll soon realise they faced many of the same struggles as you on their journey towards success.
  3. Find your tribe – look for the people and groups online who are also working towards your same goal, open up to them and they’ll reassure you that the process is the same for every newbie (and hopefully they’ll encourage you to keep trying!).
  4. Get OK with being vulnerable. Share your attempts, admit when you fail – somebody somewhere is so inspired by you and your progress. Do it for the old you, the one who dared to dream and didn’t quite believe they could do it. You’re doing it!
  5. Remind yourself that you might fail one hundred times, but it only takes one time for you to succeed. Every single person who ever succeeded started as a beginner, overcame challenges, learned from failures, and eventually achieved their goal. One day, that person will be you.

Try, fail, try again, fail better

I have failed many, many times in my life. I’ve never hit 50k words during NaNoWriMo, I entered Pitch Wars with my first manuscript and didn’t get in, I queried around 40 agents and got some pleasant responses but not even a single full request. I kept writing, kept rewriting, kept sharing my journey here on my blog and on Instagram with the incredible writing and reading community over there, and just over a year ago I made the bold decision to self publish. And I haven’t looked back.

I certainly haven’t achieved my version of overnight success yet, but that’s all part of the thrill. Where do you go once you’re considered “successful”? I guess it becomes a game of maintaining it and living to everyone else’s expectations of you, and that’s just not as much fun to me.

Keep trying, dear reader. Never stop trying.

Lyndsey

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