Being a beginner can be a scary thing. You have no idea what you’re doing, you will very likely make many mistakes, and it requires putting yourself into a vulnerable position of “not knowing”; but being a beginner can also be one of the most beautiful and freeing experiences as well.
I love being a beginner. Sure, it scares me to my core, but it is also incredibly empowering. Think about it, when you are a beginner, there are no expectations to perform. There are no assumptions of knowledge or skill level. It is the one time you can show up as you are and just experience whatever it is in its purest form; and if you allow yourself to release the anxiety and fear of failure, it is the one time when you can immerse yourself into learning in such a pure and untainted way that only becomes more difficult as you acquire higher levels of skill and understanding.
The first time I went to a yoga class, I was shaky, unsteady and about as bendy as an oak tree. The first time I had to halter a horse, I am pretty sure it took me a full five minutes to stop getting tangled in the rope. The first time I sang in a group, my voice was wobbly and my palms were sweaty. The first time I went to a meditation seminar, I kept cracking my eyes to see if anyone else was peeking. Every single first experience is a messy collage of success and failure; but every single time I was inspired. (Or in a few instances, inspired to find another activity or interest).
Learning is a powerful medium for overcoming fear, exploring our body’s limits, expanding our knowledge and wisdom, and connecting with the world around us. When we are able to put aside the need to be “proficient” from the very beginning and get out of our own way, we can find inspiration and satisfaction in the struggle. The amount of times I fell on my face when I was learning to do crow pose was astounding, but every time I tried, I got a little bit closer. (And, I won’t lie…it endlessly amused me as I toppled and tumbled) We live in a world that values expert proficiency, perfect mastery, and inspiring exceptionalism; but there is something to be said for the bravery and beauty in early imperfection and first attempts.
Being a beginner also means that the moment we do make those breakthroughs, there is an ecstatic rush of accomplishment. Even little triumphs carry great weight because they are part of what builds that foundation of experience. And those feelings of joy and accomplishment will stay with us as we progress. They are often the moments we reflect back on when we need that extra motivation for the next level of skill; because there is no feeling like that first time we successfully overcame a new challenge.
One of the things that has always inspired me to share new experiences and activities with people is that I have derived such joy from being a beginner. I still get nervous jumping into things headfirst, but the more times I do it, the more I realize that there is nothing but opportunity! So, I encourage you to stop today and take a moment to look around and see where you can explore being a beginner again. What new skill or knowledge set can you learn? How can you break down those walls of fear and embrace being a beginner? How can you get in touch with the ecstasy of learning?
Homework for this week…try something new! Whether it is in a class or in the privacy of your own home, just try something new and try to embrace the wobbles, the shakes, the confusion and the chaos. This week, BE A BEGINNER!