The Anti-Self-Deprecation Challenge: 5 Things I Am Good At

More than one person has noted that I am rather self-deprecating. Hell, I noticed this myself and wrote a whole post about it. Thus, I’m trying an experiment: I’m going to try writing a post of things I am good at.

This is a weird post to write because my natural inclination is to disclaim for accuracy, which other people interpret as needless self-deprecation, but from my end, I feel like I’m trying to be accurate. Like honestly, I used to play a pretty mean game of Scrabble, but I haven’t played in ages so I’m out of practice now. If I wrote “I’m good at Scrabble” without qualifiers, I just know that someone would challenge me, I’d lose, and then I’d be called a liar. Writing this post feels very risky.

I’m telling myself that “Good” doesn’t have to mean the best, doesn’t have to mean that there aren’t people who are better, and doesn’t have to mean that I’d win every time.

So with that, a list of things I am fairly good at:

1) Shepherd’s Pie

I am a mostly mediocre chef. I love reading recipes and watching cooking shows, but I just don’t have the interest or patience when it comes to actually cooking well. However, I make a mean Shepherd’s Pie. And by “Shepherd’s Pie”, I mean technically Cottage Pie, but seriously, no one calls it that. Dad raved about it.

Not that Dad is a reliable source of objective opinion because he also raved about my potato latkes (fried potato pancakes traditionally eaten at Chanukah), which were not that great, solely because Dad hates making potato latkes and was trying to convince someone else to take over the job. However, people who are not my dad have also raved about my shepherd’s pie.

Stock photo of potato pancakes because I couldn’t find a free stock photo of shepherd’s pie. Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

2) My Non-Native-Speaker French Accent

I’m not going to claim that my accent sounds “French”, because that would be awfully bold of me. But I can confidently say that my accent does not sound American.

However, this is actually kind of a bad thing, because then people assume I can actually speak it in normal conversation, which I cannot. Fear/lack of opportunity means I have little experience conversing in French with actual speakers, which means my listening comprehension is poor, and my vocabulary is whatever useless phrases they teach you in French class that you would never have reason to use in real life.

Once, I bought a phrasebook of inappropriate French slang so I can learn things like how to buy drugs and how to hire a prostitute and tell said prostitute exactly what I would like to do in bed in French. I haven’t read it yet though.

3) Country Music Karaoke

I have a complicated relationship with my voice generally and it feels really uncomfortable to characterize my voice as “good”. But I feel like I can say that I have a pretty good country music singing voice for karaoke.

I don’t play guitar, perform with a live band, or wear cowboy hat and boots. (This is just a stock photo to represent country music.) Did I also mention that I’m extremely good at misrepresenting myself in stock photos? Photo by Raúl Nájera on Unsplash

Don’t get the wrong idea though. I still lost all the time in competitive karaoke, including during Country Music week with what I thought was an awesome solo performance. Btw, I also failed the audition for the Jewish A Cappella Group in college, even though “Jewish A Cappella Group” sounds tailored to me and my audition was amazing.

Wow, it is easy to go back down the self-deprecation rabbit hole…

4) Leyning (Reading Torah)

This is the one I probably have the most skill in by far. Of course, only egalitarian congregations that allow women to leyn actually care. [Traditionally, Orthodox Judaism does not allow women to read Torah – this is one reason (out of many) why I am not Orthodox and have no intention of becoming Orthodox]. The egalitarian congregations definitely care, and they do appreciate it.

Also, I’m good at sight-reading Haftarah. This Yom Kippur, I was asked at the very last minute to read Jonah for Yom Kippur. Granted, that doesn’t really count as sight-reading because I’ve done it before. But my Jonah reading was excellent. One of the few things this Yom Kippur that actually went well. (Yom Kippur was a clusterfuck, due to my own incompetence). The sermon went well too, actually. I’d still characterize Yom Kippur this year as a disaster overall, but it should be noted that I am a good public speaker.

5) Functioning On 4 Hours of Sleep Per Night

I mean, I’ve made it to 36, still have a job and haven’t died yet. Follow me for more healthy living tips! Just kidding. Seriously, don’t take health advice from this blog.

Thus concludes the anti-self-deprecation post experiment. I can’t decide if this did anything positive, but I’m turning into a challenge for the rest of you anyway. Please don’t challenge me to a shepherd’s pie cook-off.

Discussion Time!

Challenge time! Tell me: What are your 5 talents / 5 things you are good at? I want to hear it all: the good, the “I do this professionally”, the exceptional, the ever-so-slightly-better-than-average, and the thoroughly-mediocre-but-still-going-to-count-it-anyway. I want to hear the useful and the utterly useless. I want to hear the ridiculously niche. Tell me in the comments / on your own blog without deprecating yourself. Go!

103 comments

  1. I think I’m like you in a way. People think I’m good at things, but I always look at the fact that there are a lot of people who are a whole lot better than me. You might think I can play the guitar, but if you make it to my post tonight and get beyond 6 minutes of the bloody awful video I posted, you can see one of my many personalities is rather poor at demonstrating chords on a dang nice, new guitar.

    Now as far as things I’m good at. I’m a good dancer when I do it. I’m good at riding anything with two wheels. I’m really good and figuring things out. And often pretty good at fixing things. I excel at cat herding. I’m good a wielding a camera with a giant lens. I’m good at solving complex problems, which I have to do quite often at work. I’m good an innovating and coming up with good solutions for things when I can’t find other people to solve the problems for me. I’m also really good at sitting around and doing nothing more than thinking.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I just feel like when I say something even slightly self-promotional, someone out there will hear it as a challenge, like “Oh really, prove it!’ and then I’ll regret it, so I default to self-deprecation. But that’s not really fair.

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to listening to your so-called bloody awful video with poor chord demonstration. You still get tons of credit in my book for playing guitar in the first place (I don’t play any instruments because I couldn’t mentally cope with the beginner stage of being terrible), composing original songs and also parody lyrics, putting together cool arrangements, inspiring your cats to develop their musical talents (Dumpsta-Spunk!) and putting together these videos.

      Excellent list of things you are good at!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I should have said I was good at figuring things out. When there’s a theft in the neighborhood, I’m usually the first one to figure out who the thief was. (Not that there’s much theft in my present neighborhood, but I’ve lived in some shady parts of town in my day.)

      We musicians are our own worst critics. I don’t think I have the link to your six minutes, but I seriously doubt they’re as botched up as you think they are.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You should add writing to your list. You have a very confident and consistent voice in your writing and the imagery in your poetry is really stunning. You also observe grammar and spelling conventions which happens to please me because (according to some) I am a pedantic old fuddy duddy and can’t cope with language evolving. I nearly had steam coming out my ears when my son’s teacher (two days in a row for home learning) wrote the heading “Maths Tally’s” In response to your Discussion time questions, I will write a post and put a link here. 🙂 You’ve inspired me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, four hours of sleep?! So little sleep would kill me! 😮 I’d be dead! I’ve always been mindblown by people who can get by on so little sleep!! I need around nine or ten hours!! And sometimes a nap!

    I admire the anti-self-deprecation movement! I can easily picture you rocking the karaoke!!

    I taught myself how to build furniture! That was fun! Then I remodeled the house, so I’ll give myself props for that!

    I can’t speak French at all! But I took Spanish in school, so that could be why. Although I can’t speak Spanish either. Well, maybe a little bit. But I love that part in “Home Alone” where the older girl says, “Kevin, you’re what the French call Les Incompetents.” 😀 I bet you could say that well with your accent!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Building furniture and remodeling the house is amazing!!! I am afraid of anything home improvement related.

      The sleep thing – for a long time, I just naturally slept 6 hours without an alarm. Then it crept to 5 hours and now it’s more like 4-5. I do find myself catching up periodically. Slept 7 hours this Friday night, for example. (Might have been more, but the neighbors were having exceptionally loud sex and it was actually really loud and obnoxious…)

      It would be nice if I actually managed to do something productive with the time that I don’t spend sleeping, but that never happens!

      I’ve decided to turn this into a true challenge/movement!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Go you!! You could do something fun and creative!! You could write a novel or paint some pictures, or something!! So many fun possibilities!! Keep us posted!!

        HA HA! Wow, your neighbors! 😀 Oh my.

        Like

  4. I am extremely good at getting really shy when this sort of question is asked and then proceeding to shut my mind down so that I can will no longer say anything until I manage to think of the most useless thing to mention.

    … Does it show? 😅

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I do sincerely wish that you are proud of yourself despite the self-depreciating stuff you claim to be inclined to say. Well, you missed an important point in this post: Being an amazing writer and blogger 😉 Blogging isn’t easy.
    Your French skills are soooo relatable. I tried speaking to actual French people in French when I visited France in 2018, well, I did convey what I wanted to but I did NOT get their reply 😂 I’m working on my listening skills. I don’t sound very Frenchie either, I don’t think it’s easy to fake a French accent as it is to fake an American, British or a German.
    5 good things about myself? 😂 That’s a biiig ask. I can’t think of 1 thing I’m good at.
    Perhaps singing (I’ve learned Indian classical music), languages, sprinting and being lazy 😅
    5 is a lot of good things for me. I’m so vain right now. (I can be very self-depreciative too 😉).
    I really enjoyed reading yours. ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I count at least 3 things you listed in your comment that you are good at, so you can totally do this too! And that’s not even counting the impressive maturity and insight you have at your age.
      The French thing….I remember one time in Quebec I was in a science museum and I was so proud of myself for stringing together the words to ask a question to the guide in French…only for her to just glare at me and answer in English. 😂 At least I tried, but that did not feel encouraging!
      That’s so cool re: Indian classical music. Any particular artists you like?
      And thank you, by the way re: writing/blogging. I do enjoy writing and blogging, and I hope to make this an engaging and entertaining blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As a fellow self-deprecator, something tells me you are good at a lot more things than just those five. Anyway here goes:

    (1) I’m a good runner (when I manage to stick with it and stay in shape).

    (2) I play the piano pretty well.

    (3) I am told I am a good writer and occasionally get something published.

    (4) I am told I have a good speaking voice. as per podcasts & broadcasting.

    (5) I compose good music. Or at least, many people say it’s good.

    Weird, I feel like I’m boasting when I list things I’m good at. I actually think I’m a slogger, a sluggard, a slacker,, a slouch and very amateurish at all the things other people say I’m good at. (I’m good at alliterating, though!)

    Your No.4 sounds like a great gift, btw.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love this idea so much! As someone also prone to self-deprecation, it’s good to be reminded to just… celebrate the things you’re good at.
    Loving the wide range of talents (and super SUPER impressed by the 4 hours of sleep skill – I die with less than 7, no matter the amount of coffee).
    Being able to speak another language passably but not 100% fluently is one I can relate to, hard. My Dutch is passable for easy conversation and customer service calls, but it makes people think that I can carry on beyond that and oof is it awkward once they realize it’s just the accent that’s deceived them.
    Also, you’re missing definitely missing a number 6: writing. Haven’t said it yet, but I love the way your writing style – it flows so well.
    Will definitely be taking inspiration from your prompt this week on my blog!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m in awe of customer service calls in your non-native language. To be able to describe problems/trouble-shoot/deal with whomever is on the other end of the call, etc. is already extremely impressive! To have a good accent is a great thing, but it can be deceptive too – I’ve definitely experienced that!
      I might go to bed late / get up early without much effort, but I definitely drink a fair amount of coffee during the day!
      Thanks! I love your writing style as well. Your “life lessons from horror story posts” are wise, hilarious, and so wonderfully told! Looking forward to your take on this challenge!

      Like

      • Customer service calls in a non-native language are still my personal nightmare, although they are probably where I get my best practice. I did almost sign up to another energy supplier the other day because I pulled it off a little too well… whoops!

        If you pulled it off without coffee I’d be convinced there was some sorcery involved – definitely inhuman.

        Thanks so much! Tried my best to be sincere, but it was way harder than I thought. Held up a mirror to how much I rely on self-deprecation as a crutch. I’m sure it’ll be back for another round of “life lessons from terrible situations I definitely put myself in the first place” soon enough!

        The Anti-Self-Deprecation Challenge: 5 Things I’m Good At

        Liked by 1 person

  8. First, I’d like to say, you’re almost there lol I think you need a wee bit more practice. But this was very entertaining lol

    Five things:
    I’m a good writer.
    I’m good at research.
    I’m a good public speaker.
    I’m good at giving unsolicited advice.
    I’m good at motivating people to do things they only talk about doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good to know this about you.
    I don’t like saying what I’m good or bad at. I mostly keep that to myself.
    But…I’ll try.
    I’m good at:
    1. Multitasking personal and professional chores
    2. Writing
    3. Listening (to people, genuinely)
    4. Cooking (It was a passion once…)
    5. Cleaning (A lot of OCD led to this. I’m better now, not so obsessed)
    Thanks for this opportunity. haha. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Now you’ve got me wondering about a Jewish country band, which I suppose isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility (Edie Brickell’s album with Steve Martin was sort of that?). Anyway, I’ll bite with your request:

    1. My ex-wife used to ask, and now my current wife asks for my assistance in writing difficult emails. So I guess I have an aptitude for diplomacy. Or bullshit. I’m not sure which.
    2. I can bake a chicken and a brisket that each come out really well.
    3. I will always finish a book even if I don’t like it.
    4. I’m 61 but can still roughly achieve the same 30 minute elliptical result I did when I was in my forties.
    5. I can talk for hours about progressive rock bands (there’s my ridiculously niche!). – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel bad for having made you feel bad! Honestly, I wrote this in an initially terrible, self-critical mood (confession: this was initially going to be 7 or 10 things, but I couldn’t think of that many!), didn’t manage to keep my own post free of self-deprecation, and when I first wrote this, it did not put me in a better place.

      Like

  11. I loved the idea of this list – your choices were surprising and ultimately, it made me feel good to see such positivity and healthy self-regard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed! Hope you’ll consider doing your own version of the Anti-Self-Deprecation Challenge if you’d find it helpful.
      Honestly, I struggle with being self-critical and self-deprecating too. This was an experiment and a challenge for me too, and several commenters noted that I didn’t even fully succeed in avoid self-deprecating talk. I’m just trying, just like everyone else!

      Like

  12. I finally took the time to read all, or most, of the dozens of comments here, and thought it remarkable how consistent everyone is in being unable to entirely eliminate self-deprecating speech. To me, that suggests there is something powerful going on here–most likely regarding social interaction among humans.
    It also struck me that when you do encounter that rare person who is not at all self-deprecating, at the very least, you will give them a great deal of attention, positive or negative, deserved or not. Is it that most of us don’t want to put ourselves under that much scrutiny?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well now that you’ve put things that way, I actually feel kinda sad that I can’t get to try your shepherd’s pie. And functioning on 4 hours of sleep? That’s a danged superpower! I love these anti-self-deprecation vibes. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was an interesting experiment, this anti-self-deprecating challenge. I didn’t even completely succeed in avoiding negative self-talk in my original post, but it was an experiment, and it was cool to hear about the talents of others as well. You could try the experiment yourself if you want!
      Unfortunately, I’m not set up to ship shepherd’s pie to Malaysia, lol.

      Like

  14. I love this droll blog post. You are accurate in your tendency to slip into self-deprecating. Many people lack that self-awareness and automatically assume they are the best at everything (someone in politics perhaps?) I can do parodies almost instantly if I know something about the person and am familiar with a song they select. Not much of a party trick but most people are not critical to have a song created on the spot featuring them.

    Liked by 1 person

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