Why You Should Let Yourself Be a Beginner
Your bravery will pay off.
Growing up, we’re told we can be anything we want to be. Kids are regularly asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and almost no answer seems outside the realm of possibilities. You want to be an astronaut? Go for it! A delegate for the UN? Amazing! A financially stable homeowner with good healthcare and no crippling anxiety? That one actually may be teetering toward impossible, but dream big, kid!
As we get older, though, our “big dreams” may start to instead be referred to as “pipe dreams.” Society as a whole is not always very kind to adults embarking on a new journey; imagine someone wanting to change their career at age 40, or publishing a lifestyle blog at 55- they may be met with some apprehension from loved ones. I think there are a couple of main reasons for this, one of them being envy; others wish they had the courage to start something new, too. Another reason is fear; when people hear of someone taking a step out of their comfort zone, they imagine themselves doing the same and it freaks them out.
Instead of getting anxious or envious, what society should be doing is applauding these brave status quo defiers for pursuing what they want without any regard for other people’s objections. It takes a lot of grit to delve into something unfamiliar.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to try something new is hard enough even without the commentary from naysayers, so why should we put ourselves through all that?
Starting something new can give you a much more enriched life
We know how monotonous life can get when we’re doing the exact same thing every day, but it’s very easy to get stuck in that work-dinner-sleep-work cycle. Picking up a new hobby gives you something fresh and challenging to accomplish each day you practice it.
People have a tendency to not want to mess with their day-to-day routine, simply because they’re used to it and it’s easier not to. The older I get, the more I’m hit with the realization that this day-to-day is my life; my vacations and trips to different countries and weekends spent with friends will make up a much smaller percentage of my life than the days I spend working. Therefore, spending Monday-Friday every week only working and doing nothing for yourself means you’re spending the vast majority of your life… only working and doing nothing for yourself.
We all need to work, of course, but we also need to reclaim more of our time outside of work during the week. Whether it be painting, writing, completing puzzles, reading, learning calligraphy, practicing a new sport, needlepoint, home improvement, cooking, playing an instrument, or anything else that piques your interest, find something, anything, you’re interested in and start with even 10 minutes a day devoted solely to that new hobby.
Being a beginner is extremely humbling- in a good way
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis
If you’re spending your whole life only doing things you know you’re good at, there’s a good chance you have an inflated idea of how good you are at things. There’s also a good chance you’ll have less empathy when seeing someone else fumble through being a beginner at something (a new employee on their first day on the job, someone attempting to speak your language when it’s clearly not their first, a friend cooking a new recipe for you for the first time and it turning out worse than expected).
If you’ve recently been a newcomer to something yourself, you can look at these people and think, “I’ve been there.” You respect them for putting themselves out there rather than judging them for not being perfect at this new task they’re attempting. It also allows you to rightsize your self-evaluation of the things you aren’t such a novice at- for example, getting into gardening and recognizing that you don’t know the first thing about it can make you feel like less of a hot-shot for knowing everything there is to know about bee-keeping.
Humility is such a valuable quality that I think a lot of the world is lacking in. Aside from just being more pleasant to be around than the prideful, egotistical type, humble people benefit from mental health boosts like the ability to release grudges and forgive themselves more easily. Allow yourself to struggle at something unfamiliar and watch this crucial trait grow in you.
A new interest can connect you to like-minded people
I’ve technically been “studying” the Spanish language for most of my life, but about 2.5 years ago, I moved to Spain and finally began taking it seriously. I expected learning Spanish to allow me to connect with people within the country and to make my day-to-day life there much easier, and it definitely did. What I didn’t expect was how much fun I would have during the actual process of learning to speak it.
I’ve always been a bit of a grammar nerd and have been very interested in foreign languages, but learning Spanish ignited a passion for learning within me that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I’m now part of a Facebook group for travelers/language learners, and I’ve connected with a few people in the group to practice Spanish with them. I have other friends who are also learning Spanish who I can commiserate with when we’re struggling with a particularly complex grammar point. I’m instantly fascinated when I encounter other multilingual people, and we instantly have something interesting to talk about when we meet.
There are people I’ve met through this process that I now can’t imagine my life without, and it’s all because I dared to be a beginner (despite all the prior years of study, I can assure you my Spanish was day-one-level when I arrived in Spain). When you take up a new interest, you never know who it might introduce you to!
Though it can be intimidating, the rewards of trying something new are overwhelmingly positive. Do some soul-searching to see what types of hobbies draw your attention. Devote some time to it each day and allow yourself to mess up, and bear witness to the overwhelmingly positive effects it has on your life over time.