Nowadays the world is pretty much our oyster. The stack of opportunities available to us starting out our adult lives are hard to ignore. We can feel like we’ve got to get out there, see the world and maximize our potential, or else we’re missing out.
All sorts of suggestions filter into our lives, whether it's encouragement to try new things, broaden our horizons or get as far away from our comfort zones as we can, it all adds up to the same message. In theory sure that's exciting and fantastic, but in reality for a lot of us, taking on something new is actually a significantly frightening thought.
As an impatient perfectionist, I've found in my own life that allowing myself to be a beginner has been quite a learning curve. I love the idea of trying new things and diving straight in, but then I'd also kind of prefer to be proficient at everything.. like yesterday at the latest...
Being a beginner means accepting that I don't know it all, asking for help when I need it and realizing that making mistakes is part of the process. None of which were exactly my favourite things to do.
But quite often when that feeling of discomfort comes up for me I know there must be something to be learnt.
Allowing myself to just be a beginner was it; embracing the vulnerability of having to learn, to be imperfect and maybe occasionally (/frequently) look a little less than competent.
But here's why I'd recommend it,
1. Respect the Journey.
In everything we undertake, there's nowhere to start but the beginning. Regardless of our aptitude, we'll always need to get the know-how from somewhere.
When we let ourselves be a beginner, we put the value on progression instead of instant perfection. We get to practice patience with ourselves, see each small success as an achievement and take serious pride when we're no longer novices.
Of course it'd be easy to be an immediate pro but then you miss out on the journey and all the firsts along the way. Accepting beginner status enables us to really appreciate the process, and make success even sweeter.
2. Solid Foundations.
Embracing the learning phase creates strong foundations for future success. I've no doubt we've all had moments of cramming quickly followed by forgetting when the pressure is off or ticking the boxes and then throwing out the list.
In any language, sport, or hobby, we start with the basics for a reason. We're not above them, we can't skip them and trying to do so will give us fairly shaky foundations.
Recovery is the exact same, we need to learn and relearn, practice and keep practicing until our fundamental knowledge is cemented. It's worth acknowledging that the beginner stage is crucial to solidify our starting point. From there of course we can catapult into kicking butt, but it'll be from a strong substantial start.
3. Asking for help.
This one takes getting used to. I personally was really reluctant to ask for help and would just suffer in silence trying to figure it all out for myself. As you might guess, this was never helpful!
Asking for help is a vulnerable thing, but it's also a necessary one. As beginners, we need to use any resources we can get hold of to help ourselves improve; even if it's embarrassing or intimidating, that's how we'll learn.
When we show a willingness to learn, people are generally very willing to help. Ok we'll have to admit that we're new to this, but there's nothing wrong with that.
In a new job, learning to drive or whatever we begin we need to remember that if we've never done it before, obviously we don't know how to do it yet. That’s why L plates, lessons and training exist!
4. Let go of expectations.
I think one of my main barriers to embracing beginner status was worrying about what others might think of me. Like as though I 'should' just be able to do everything and to fall short would be a disappointment.
But that attitude would put anyone off ever trying anything new. When we can be a beginner, the only expectations we need are those that we'd have for any other beginner. There will be mistakes, there will be nerves and that's ok, because that is to be expected.
Knowing our capabilities and expecting perfection are quite different so we need to adjust accordingly.
From my own experience, these learnings have helped me in various areas of my life. Whether it’s my recovery, new hobbies, or my job it gives me a chance to go easier myself and shake the shackles of perfectionism.
I know now that the only way I can embrace new ventures fully is to be a beginner; to ask for help, practice consistently to get solid foundations, let go of what I and others might think of my ability and respect my own starting point.
Now when I try new things I can enjoy my progression and take on advice with an open mind, because I know I'm not advanced yet. I'm only just beginning and that's absolutely okay.
In anything we do we can't avoid being a beginner, but we can choose whether we embrace it or try avoid it.
Why not choose to make the most of this time, learn as much as we can and put our potential to its best use?