The Cost of Entry

Why it's important to try new things, and being okay with failure
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Created by KrisxKros

Published on Mar 28, 2024
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Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

The Cost of Entry

I used to be a perfectionist.

For most of my youth, I was the typical ‘gifted child’. I picked up information like a sponge, I barely ever had to study to perform well, and numbers made sense to me in a way that did not come so easily to my peers.

Conversely though, just like the stereotype, I was terrible in all things active and artistic. I couldn’t run around the gym without losing my breath, my hand-eye coordination was nowhere to be found, and my two left feet could never find any rhythm.

And so, to my detriment, I stuck to what I was good at. 

I loved the praises I received from my school teachers, instead of the positive encouragement I got from my PE coaches. Once you had gotten used to hearing cheers for success, getting told that you could still improve and that you were doing great (for doing subpar) sounded incredibly patronizing.

To maintain the perfection I started seeking, I pretended like I could control what I was good and bad at. I cared about my academics, so I made that into my identity. I was the smart kid, the tutor, the scholar. 

For anything physical, I acted like it didn’t matter at all. I acted like I could care less about PE. I would roll my eyes at the subject, and jokingly hide in the classrooms to express how little it mattered to me. 

With this, it would seem like doing badly was my own choice. I was bad because I chose not to try. Not because I just really wasn’t that good.

To be clear, I don't want to praise this type of behavior.

used to be a perfectionist. Now I am not.

College was a humbling experience. As stated, I was the academic kid, the smart one. So, I naturally decided to go into a course that would challenge me academically.

That, it did.

I was put into a situation where there was no escape from trying. I had to be seen studying for hours, I had to put down my pride and ask for help from those who knew the subject matter better. I had to show imperfection, to become better.

Me and my friends from college laugh a lot about our choice to go into this particular course, complaining about how if we had gone elsewhere we would have excelled without trying half as much. While I do agree, and I do join in on the regrets occasionally, I do think it changed my frame of mind for so much else in my life. And for that, I am grateful.

There is a quote that I came across recently by a man named Ed Latimore:

“Embarrassment is the cost of entry.  

If you aren't willing to look like a foolish beginner, you'll never become a graceful master.”

If I had stuck to what I was good at from the get-go, I would never grow as a person.

Something I learned while getting older is that there is no shame in trying because trying means that you are learning to get better. 

I used to be a perfectionist, but now I embrace fumbling around. I embrace practice runs, and awkward movements, and mistakes, because it means that one day there will be a new thing that I am good at--it's just the cost of improving myself overall. 

While I am not perfect, I am not one-dimensional. I am no longer just a “smart kid” archetype or an academic. I’m good at my work, and I’m trying to be good at dance. I like to write, but I also like to try my hand at painting, and ceramics, and all other methods of creation.

There is more to me than the things I’m good at from the moment I try them. And I would have never known that if I hadn’t become comfortable with trying.

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