You start falling in love with something. It could be dancing or writing or stand-up-comedy, gardening or how to brew your own wine. You're curious about it, so you sing, dance or research everything about brewing wine in your limited free time after work. It's fun. It's a reward in itself. It's not that you couldn't live without it, but you wouldn't really know what to do with yourself besides watching TV or going shopping.
You know that you’re an absolute beginner. You know that your performance isn’t great - actually far from great. You know that the only advantage you have over the person next to you is your curiosity and your desire to learn. You might not be blessed with the natural gifts to become a professional whatever. In fact, you might have the biggest obstacles in your way, like you wanna become a ballet dancer, but you think you’re too fat or you wanna write a book, but you have dyslexia.
But because it’s fun, you keep doing your thing, and you’re aware of the fact, that if you put yourself out there, there is a chance that you will embarrass yourself in front of others.
I remember a really disturbing moment I had ten years ago. At that time I was still working in an office in Frankfurt Germany, when I heard about an audition for a TV dance show in a city nearby. I had some dance experiences and in my naivety I thought "The hell with it! Why not go to the audition?" So I signed up for it. I prepared some cool moves in my living room to Britney Spears’ I’m a slave, called my besty Julia and drove to the audition. When we got there, I suddenly realized that there is no doubt that I will totally embarrass myself in front of everybody. There were a lot of dancers who obviously spend days or weeks to prepare a cool choreography. I anxiously waited for my turn and delivered the worst performance ever. It was like a slap in the face.
As you can imagine, I was really disappointed about myself and shocked how naiv I was. This day really put my talent in perspective to what’s actually out there and how much you have to invest to be able to dance professionally.
Now, ten years later, I still think it was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever done in my life, but what a brave bitch I was to just go there and sign up for it.
"Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing [...] And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. And most people try to avoid embarrassing themselves, namely because it sucks. Ergo,[…],if you avoid anything that could potentially embarrass you, then you will never end up doing something that feels important.”
BAM! I read this quote on Mark Manson's website the other day and I thought, “Hallelujah, this guy is a genius.” It’s so true.
No matter what you wanna become good at, you won’t have a choice to skip the embarrassing parts. The only choice you have is, to pick a field that you’re so curious about that the fact that you gonna embarrass yourself is not gonna stop you.
As I always used to say to my German friends: “Mut zur Peinlichkeit!”, which means, “Life is too short to not embarrass yourself!”
Love and courage!