What are you like when it comes to trying new things? I don’t mean things like a new brand of ice cream, or a marmite-flavoured vodka but things like experiences, or a new hobby. 

For me, I’m pretty bad at it; I mean bad at actually making myself do it. When I was looking for a new hobby (glass fusing – which it was at the time), it took me months to summon the courage to book onto a course. I even sent Rich on a course first, just to try it out. I figured that if he couldn’t do it, he wouldn’t lose sleep over it and I certainly wouldn’t. That’s me, you see. Endlessly brave…

It’s called ‘perfectionism’ and it’s fair to say that it’s taken up far too much of my life. So many times, I have wanted to try something but haven’t because ‘I know I’ll be shit at it’. 

This is a crazy thing to think because really, who is good at something the first-time round? You can’t tell me that Usain Bolt shot out his mother’s womb so fast that he thought to himself ‘there’s something in this – I can move REALLY quickly’. Or that Edison literally had a lightbulb moment during a nappy change. 

It’s not the trying, it’s the humiliation…

Clearly, being really good at something, takes time and practice. So, I’ve asked myself why I expect to be good at something, immediately. I’ve thought long and hard about it and ultimately, I don’t think I’m scared of failing, but I AM scared of being humiliated. You see, in my world, I think it’s OK to try something and not be brilliant, but it’s not OK to try something and be really fucking terrible. Like, the worst attempt from anyone, ever, that’s tried that thing. That’s humiliating. 

I’ve realised that humiliation is one of the things I am most afraid of in life. It’s an emotion that feels the most uncomfortable and at the time, the most devastating. I remember one hideous moment taking part in an inter-school gym competition. I was average at gym, but well below-average at vaulting. When it came to my turn, I jumped on the springboard, tripped over the box and landed on my face the other side. I recall the hushed sounds and my gym teacher standing over me, ordering me to get up. I remember being face down and thinking I would rather die through suffocation on that mat than ever show my face again. Total humiliation. At an age when even walking into a room is humiliating. 

Be wary of the Red Shoes

Another time, I recall finding a beautiful pair of shoes when I was about 13. They were in the sale for a ridiculous price, so I snapped them up. I soon realised why they were in the sale because you couldn’t stand upright in them. The soles were so slippery that even walking on a piece of Velcro would have had me unwittingly auditioning for Ski Sunday. But they were bloody lovely. The brightest red. With a bow on the front. So, I wore them. And walked gingerly. 

One winter evening, I was meeting some friends. I would be literally getting out of my dad’s car, and walking to the front door of the village hall. With such a short distance, surely I could manage that in my Ski Sunday shoes? On arrival, I saw my other friend turn up in her dad’s car. I got out and walked over. I slipped and fell. She hadn’t noticed until she looked up and saw my hand grabbing onto the bonnet of their car and me hauling myself up, only to not get purchase in my shoes, like a cartoon mouse, and fall again. Her and her dad laughed like drains. She was still laughing 3 hours later when he came to pick her up again. The shoes went in the fucking bin. 

OK, I wasn’t trying anything new in those shoes. I could, after all, already walk. But the humiliation has stayed with me and it’s the possibility of feeling that intense shame again which threatens me when trying new things.

The Impressive Adult… 

About 18 months ago, I bought a glass course on a technique which has always intrigued me. It’s been in my inbox ever since because I’ve been too damn scared to try it. It’s technically advanced, but what worries me most is that it’s…arty. I cannot draw. I cannot paint. This course involves both. What a dick. 

I’ll not lie, I’ve been keener to clean out my cat’s litter tray than to begin this course and that’s never a joy. 

But, I’ve started. 

Wow. See, it’s never too late to become an impressive adult…

The first piece went in the kiln on Friday and came out two days later. It’s okay. Needs work, but it’s okay. It’s not exactly a Usain Bolt moment, but I’ll get there. I thought about putting a picture of it here for about, ooh, 3 milliseconds. 

But I’d rather be flat on my face on a gym mat.