Shook Ones

Today was grueling. Actually, not really. I mean, sure, I walked around in the hot sun and like all of my errands were a bust, but then I said screw it and went to get a dosa and then some sugar cane juice. So all in all, not too bad. And that was just things before 2:00.

No, what was really intense was doing some drawing. Which, once written out, looks a little lame. I’ve always wanted to draw. I can kinda sketch a tiny bit when I put my mind to it, but I’ve never been “a person who can draw.” I’ve really wanted to be able to for a long time, but I’ve never really gone for it.

I’m smart enough to know that the key to being good at anything is doing it a lot. But the problem is doing that involves being bad at something for a while during the time you’re learning. And I hate being bad at stuff. Of course, over the last couple years out here, I’ve had to be bad at a lot of things, but there wasn’t much choice involved. Luckily, it got me used to it, so I’ve decided to start being unabashedly bad at stuff …with the end goal of being better, of course.

So today, I exhausted all my possible distractions and finally gathered myself up, grabbed “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” and started in. That mostly meant a lot of reading, followed by the incredibly daunting task of three “pre-instruction drawings.” And much like me performing a “pre-instruction” surgery, things were gonna get ugly. The first attempt, drawing a portrait from memory, was god awful. I got it done as quickly as I could and turned it face down—I’m certainly never telling that person what I did with their likeness. The second, a self portrait, was challenging. I took a lot more time with it and it was scary, but I got through it. And honestly, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it certainly wasn’t good, but it looks like me. There was a little light/shadow play that I was proud of, a particularly decent take on the collar to my polo, and the nose came out alright. Finally, with my confidence up, I was supposed to draw my hand. I launched into that one, and while some of the proportions are a little wonky, I was super stoked on how I managed the perspective on the fingertips curling back towards me at various angles. That’s something I didn’t think I’d be able to do.

Luckily, part of the process is putting away these early drawings and not checking ‘em ’till you’ve worked through the rest of the book. I’m glad about that. But the drawing isn’t the thing here—it’s the process. My greatest impediment to success has always been my self-consciousness. My fear of being bad at stuff. I’m a pretty decent writer, but I can’t finish a draft to save my life, because even if it’s going well, it might not be perfect. I blame being precocious as a kid and trading on being bright without ever producing anything of worth through hard work. What if I sucked at something and then I wasn’t bright anymore?

These are foolish thoughts, I know, but old habits die hard. But I’m making a new habit: being bad at stuff. Which should be followed by being good at stuff, ideally. Things being fun certainly helps and I’m excited to draw some more—I’ve got so many ideas, I want to get ‘em down.

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