In an inspiring story of tenacity and discipline, Katie St. Clair has finally mastered the skill of negative self-talk after completing her 10,000th hour of practice.
Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that in order to gain expertise in any area, one must put in 10,000 hours of practice, and St.Clair proudly hit that number last Tuesday, having spent most of every day for the past five years berating herself relentlessly, often for no good reason at all.
“I make it a point to make negative self-talk part of my everyday routine,” St. Clair said in an interview. “First thing in the morning, I look in the mirror and say ‘Katie, you’re a piece of shit.’ You know, start with something general to get myself going. Then I make coffee, and chide myself for not knowing how to do latte art.”
“In the afternoon, I move on to things more specific to my own life, like the fact that I’ve never sold a novel and that I spent too much money on lunch last week. Every step of the way, I make sure to talk to myself in the meanest ways possible – ways I would never speak to another human being!”
“Sometimes I’d even beat myself up for beating myself up too much,” added St. Clair. “I learned that in the field, that’s called ‘going meta.’”
Her friends confirm that St. Clair has put in the time and dedication to master the art of negative self-talk. “She’s not trying to skate by without putting in the hours,” said Melinda Klein, who has known St. Clair for most of their adult lives. “Once I heard her calling herself ‘a complete waste of space’ just because she forgot something on her grocery list. I can only imagine how much more intense her practice is when others aren’t around.”
St. Clair’s parents couldn’t be prouder of their daughter.
“She showed promise from an early age,” said Katie’s mother, Marsha St. Clair. “When she was seven and I heard her calling herself a ‘useless sack of crap’ for not selling more Girl Scout cookies, I knew we were dealing with an immense talent. But I always taught her that talent isn’t enough – you still have to put in the work and never, under any circumstance, show yourself any compassion.”
When asked what she was going to tackle next, St. Clair said she’d like to zero in on the art of denying her own accomplishments – and she might just start with this one.
“I may have put in my 10,000 hours, but I still suck,” said St. Clair. “I’d like to get good at denying my accomplishments, but I’m probably too stupid to learn how.”