Does the label "adult beginner" sound like an oxymoron to you? Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head being a beginner was only for children. As an adult, I was either allowed to be excellent at something, or I could have no claim to it at all. Is it possible that by shifting our mindset around the concept of being a "beginner," we can actually begin a much larger shift in our lives? I really think it is! I would venture to guess that I'm not the only person who has struggled with this kind of icky perfectionism mindset. There is a pattern of people hitting a certain stage in their lives, often young adulthood, when they simply stop attempting to learn new things. The phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is simply not true, but so many yield to this philosophy as an excuse to settle for what they already know.
"You have to take baby steps...
...before you can fly"
I cannot tell you how many headaches I could have avoided in my performing career if I simply would have allowed myself to be a beginner. Taking appropriate-level dance classes, singing songs within one's healthy range, and beginning with the basics in acting method classes are all choices that create a strong foundation for a performer. They are also choices that I haven't always made. What I thought was admirably pushing myself toward my goals was actually wearing away at my confidence. Trust me, the first time you walk into a ballet class at the Joffrey Ballet school that's about two levels higher than you should actually be taking, you'll understand. You don't want to be the girl clinging to the barre because she is terrified of the adagio. However, if you allow yourself to start from the beginner class and work your way up, you'll find that you don't struggle nearly as much as before, and you will also realize that there are countless people at every level of learning. You aren't alone, and you're not behind! You are where you are. Have love and grace for each stage of the process <3
My wise and wonderful friend Brooke recently told me a beautiful analogy that went a little like this: Think of a precious baby learning to walk. They start by crawling, then pulling themselves up and toddling around with the support of people who already know how to walk. They might fall down more than they like, but no one is going to scold them for that! No one will ridicule them for not knowing how to do something they've never done before. They're going to smile, pick them up, and help them on their way. Now imagine that this is the way we all are whenever we start something new, whether we're 6 months old or 60 years old. We're all learning how to walk, and if we can show ourselves and others the same love we show to those sweet, little babies, then there is no doubt that we will soon be strolling along with the best of them.
I think one of the greatest things about life is that there is ALWAYS something new to learn! If we can't embrace that fact, then we are going to spend our entire lives living through the eyes of our earliest years. Instead, think of how beautiful would it be if we could continue to add layers upon layers of learning throughout our entire lives! I would challenge you to pick something, anything you have ever desired to explore or know more about, and begin. Start from the earliest stages of learning and have so much grace for your precious self.
"You can learn new things at any point in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." - Barbara Sher: career/lifestyle coach and speaker
The whole world opens up to you. Now isn't that worth trying?
With love, kindness, and grace,