There’s a phrase that originated with Navy SEALS: embrace the suck. It’s the practice of moving toward, rather than away from, situations and thoughts that make you uncomfortable. The concept is those situations are always going to be part of life, and we make them worse by trying to avoid them, by putting them off until they loom larger, by pretending they’re not there.
In other words, yeah, these things suck. Deal with it. Embrace the suck and get through it.
One of the situations many of us avoid is starting something new. It’s scary. You don’t really know if you’ll like it, or if you’ll be good at it, or whether it will be a positive or a negative thing in your life.
That fear has a lot to do with our comfort. At some level, we like doing the same thing over and over, because we know it. We’re familiar with it. We know the rules and the probable outcomes. In my volunteer work with survivors of domestic violence I’ve seen this over and over again: it’s sometimes scarier to move into something new and uncharted than it is to stay in an admittedly bad situation that is nonetheless familiar.
Trying something new is scary. It’s probably going to usher in a lot of additional scary emotions: frustration, embarrassment, fear of failure, uncertainty. Nothing anybody wants to feel.
The thing is, though, there’s a reason we got the adage “practice makes perfect.” Trying something new, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, just doing something that intimidates you, means building more frustration tolerance. So that you’ll be slightly better at it the next time. And even slightly better than that in the future.
And what does all this have to do with Ptown?
Some months ago I suggested in this column that Ptown has a lot of intellectual capital that’s essentially being wasted rather than shared. Here’s what I said back then:
It may not be what the town’s marketers want the world to think, but we have a tremendous seldom-tapped natural resource in Provincetown: these great minds, these brilliant thinkers, these sages. They live among us and we don’t always even know that they’re here.
Perhaps in an age of alternative facts, in an age where intellectualism is suspect, one way that we can fight back is by becoming even more of who we are: thinking, philosophical creatures.
I made two suggestions at that time: starting a salon, and exploring the option of hosting a TEDTalk event. As it turns out, I was just musing, while Ian Edwards hasn’t just been thinking about it: he is organizing the first TEDxProvincetown.
Something new. Something challenging. Something to engage all of the town with the world of thought, of ideas, of concepts.
I’d like to challenge you today to get involved. To stretch yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. To embrace the suck of something new. For this venture to succeed, it needs a lot of help—volunteers, speakers, funding. We can do it. We might not all be Navy SEALS, but we have a long history out here at Land’s End of embracing the suck.
Let’s do it again.