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6 Truths I’ve Learned About Being a Beginner

Monday I posted my first face-to-face Instagram Reel. It took me approximately 5 hours to: set up the ring light, figure out how to keep my glasses from reflecting in the ring light, decide what to say, figure out how to make what I wanted to say fit into the 30 second time limit, choose something to wear, move things around in the background, take the video (this alone took about 15 tries), edit the video, and remember how to actually post it onto Instagram Reels.

I fluctuated between trying not to pull my hair out, having a stomach ache and being really excited that I was going to try this new thing.

You might be thinking that that was a lot of trouble to go to for a 30 second clip. And you’d be absolutely right. I was totally exhasuted when I got it all done and posted.

“You can learn new things at any time in your life

if you are willing to be a beginner.

If you actually learn to like being a beginner,

the whole world opens up to you.”

-Barbara Sher-

Here’s the thing: Instagram is trending towards short form video. And if I want to increase my engagement and build my business, then I have to adapt and get out of my comfort zone. Which means I have to try something I’ve never done before.

Just for the record, I like my comfort zone. It’s all smooshy pajamas and cozy blankies in here.

I also like to daydream about the day when I will have facilitated a community of joy seekers and been able to create some valuable resources that can financially support this blog.

In the space between that comfy comfort zone and my dream is the no-man’s-land of being a beginner.

We would all like to skip the hard parts and move directly past GO to collect $200 and the mastery of whatever it is that we dream about doing.  Unfortunately, life insists that we go straight through the Wildnerness of Starting New Things instead.

The good news (and there IS some good news) is that we are never, ever traveling alone. No one gets to skip this step. And if you think you spotted someone who has, then you just didn’t see them with their hiking boots laced up. But I promise, they were there. There are a few universal truths (in my humble opinion) about being a beginner that I would like to share with you.

1. Everyone sucks at first.

Eloquently put, I know. But this is a fact. The first time you tried to walk, you fell. The first time you tried to swim, you almost drowned.  Kissing, parallel parking, job interviews. Seriously, the beginning of anything is always a little rough.

 So if your first try is less than stellar, Congratulations! You are human.

2. Being bad at something is uncomfortable. But the discomfort won’t kill you.

I had a stomachache for the first 3.5 hours of trying to create the Reel. (After that I had repeated myself so many times I was over it. LOL) It IS uncomfortable to be trying something new. We generally are fully aware we aren’t doing it well. And we feel awkward and unsure about the process. That’s all completely true.

And you know what? That discomfort won’t kill you.  Now, if you have a heart condition or some other physical limitations, get a doctor’s note first, please. For the rest of us, being uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable. We try to avoid that feeling as much as possible. But you will be okay despite this feeling. I promise. Persevere.

3. The older you are, the harder it might be to start.

Kids are doing everything for the first time. They just go for it. A toddler trying to walk for the first time doesn’t quit when they fall; they pop right back up! They don’t get overly self-concious (that comes later), they just dive headfirst into the new experience.

As time goes by, however, we start to look around at everyone else and develop that internal yardstick that measures everything we are doing with what everyone else is doing. We become self-conscious of our inexperience when we start something for the first time.

And then when we are finally actual adults, we decide we are supposed to be oozing competency out of every pore. So trying something new, especially something that exposes us as a beginner to others, makes us feel incredibly vulnerable.

But trying new things as an adult also has its advantages. We often know better what we want. We have a arsenal of experience to draw from. We have (hopefully) developed some resilience we may not have had during junior high cheerleading tryouts.

4. You might be frustrated or embarassed, but you won’t ever be bored.

Trying new things might make you pull all your hair out. Figuring out the technology behind the steps for taking video on my smart phone almost drove me to drink. Putting myself on video out into the wide world (a very modest 950 views) was terrifying. I had to wait until the hubs wasn’t home to even start recording because I was so self-concious.

I cycled through frustration, embarassment, laughing at myself and the exhiliration of finally (finally!) ending up with something I was okay with posting.

You what I didn’t feel? Bored.

If you find yourself feeling bored, maybe it’s time to break out that list of things you always said you wanted to try. Because the other thing you won’t have when you are willing to try new things: regrets.

 5. If you keep trying, you WILL improve.

There is a statistic out there that says in order to master a new skill you have to practice 10,000 hours. Now, I have to tell you, I don’t think there is anything I want to do badly enough to spend 10-flipping-000 hours practicing.

The GREAT news is that simple competency can be achieved in as little as 20 hours. Which feels much more manageable. If we keep making intentional efforts to learn something new, we will develop a level of capability. Often so subtly that one day we just look around and suddenly we are comfortable with what was so awkward just a little while ago.

Then we have the choice of how much more time and energy we want to invest to achieve the level of proficiency we are looking for.

 6. The next new thing you try will be slightly less terrifying.

That discomfort generated by trying new things? I don’t know that it ever disappears completely. But I do know that the more new things that you are willing to try, and the more times you are willing to push through that awkwardness, the more confident you become that you can do it again the next time you try something new.

The awkwardness of new things may remain. But your comfort level with your ability to work through it will increase.

The beautiful truth is that most of us are perfectly capable of trying the new things that are on our bucket lists or in our daydreams. The only thing in our way is our fear of looking foolish.

That fear of failure is a real thing. But the real failure is when we allow our fears to keep us from ever trying anything new.

You know what? My second Instagram Reel was a bit of a flop. But guess what? I’m going to get better. There’s nowhere to go but up.⇑

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