For two years, every Monday night, I’ve been taking this Bootcamp class. The instructor, we’ll call him Rambo, is like a greek god crossed with Fabio.

I’m the worst one in the class.

For two years, I’ve been the last person to finish suicides, the only one doing girly pushups, a red sweaty mess struggling to breathe and taking multiple breaks to refill my water bottle.

Everyone else who comes to Bootcamp is a toned, hyper-energetic, fitness buff. When Rambo makes us do one-legged bear crawls across the floor, they act like fried Oreos are raining from the sky.

“Should we do another round of goblet squats, or wrap up for the day?” he’ll ask, and they’ll yell out: GOBLET SQUATS!

Many times, over the past two years, I’ve thought that maybe I should find an easier class. Clearly, I’m not in the same physical shape as the other attendees and maybe if I found a class at my level, I would feel more comfortable.

Tonight, 20 seconds into a 90-second handstand, my arms started to shake. My wrists were burning, I could feel my back wobbling, and I realized that I was about to fall directly onto my head.

Then, I had an epiphany: It’s okay to be the worst.

In fact, you should always try to be the worst one in the room. If you’re the best one in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

Yes, it feels good to be good at something. To be the teacher’s pet. To dance at the front of your Zumba class. To hang out with people who admire you. To be the most responsible person at a party or the most well-adjusted couple in your social circle.

It feels good.

But it won’t kick your ass. And an ass-kicking produces results faster than an ego-stroke.

The next time you see someone in the gym who looks like they don’t belong there, who is struggling to keep up, give them props, give them a mental high-five (it’s probably me…)

It takes real guts to be awful at something and keep showing up regardless.

Writer from Portland, Ore. Words in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Cut, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle, and others.

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