I started a new job last week! As I was starting to learn the ropes, and then reflecting on my experience over the weekend, I thought about this blog. I wanted to write about how exhilarating/intimidating/exhausting/difficult it is to learn something new, and share that it’s important to cut ourselves some slack when we’re beginners.
And then I remembered that I already have written that post! In the fall of 2016, in fact. Here’s the original post, and here’s the text pasted below for your reading convenience:
Sometimes I forget how intimidating it is to be new at something.
I rode my bike a lot when I was a kid, but I never really learned to take care of it (beyond aesthetic upgrades like spoke beads and a personalized mini license plate). I’ve ridden as an adult, too, but only rentals in faraway places. I have a bike now, but I never ride it (for lots of reasons, but they’re just excuses). So when I saw that a local bike shop was hosting a basic bike maintenance clinic for women, I figured it would be the perfect kickstart to a new hobby/mode of transportation.
Going to that clinic last night, I was patting myself on the back for doing the responsible thing. But I was also dumbfounded by the realization that I am a complete and total beginner and know next to nothing about bikes.
It was somewhere between the chain cleaning demo and Fix-A-Flat 101 that I felt like my head was going to explode. My eyes glazed over and I wondered if there were such things as bikewashes or roadside assistance specifically for cyclists. And then I wondered if the utter glee I feel when I ride a bike is even worth all of this effort.
On my (ahem) drive home from the shop, I thought about the fact that I teach beginners all the time. Being a beginner again put me in their shoes and reminded me that even when we’re eager to learn, it can be overwhelming to start at, well, the start.
Everything I’m good at took time. And, at times, learning wasn’t always pretty or even all that fun. I need to remember that not only when I’m training others, but also when I’m learning something new myself.
Bring on the training wheels!
Besides the fact that it can be hard to start from ground zero/step 1/the tippy top, I think another reason being a beginner is hard is because—for the most part—we don’t do it enough! Researchers have found, time and time again, that novelty contributes to happiness and quality of life. But I think we resist because, as I mentioned before, learning new things can be uncomfortable. It might be more challenging than we expect, we might fail more often than we’re used to, and the light at the end of the tunnel (mastery, or at least more ease) looks awfully small and dim.
So maybe, beyond embracing being a beginner at one thing, it’s time to practice being a beginner in general. At least eventually, you can master the art of beginning!