Trying new things is hard, especially when you’re out of practice. Growing up, I spent most of my time learning and exploring – how to walk, draw, tie my shoe, learn a language, write a paper, date a boy, whatever.
But as I entered adulthood, this learning curve became less steep. It wasn’t that I had mastered all new things in the world, but I was more content with the things that I knew and only occasionally felt the need to add to my repertoire. I find that most adults are good at whatever they spend their time doing, whether a profession or a hobby, but shy away from new challenges – particularly when they might fail. Entering a new and unfamiliar circumstance is not as comfortable as the daily routine, but is so important to character growth, development and interacting with the world at large.
Last week, our host offered to teach me how to drive a stick shift / manual car. I jumped at the opportunity to learn, but nevertheless felt nervous about the challenge and even timid behind the wheel. When you make a mistake with a stick shift, the car lets you know by bucking, shaking and occasionally turning itself off. This was no gentle learning experience!
Each time I made a mistake, I felt almost stupid for the first time in years. (Likely since taking AP Calculus in high school.) As my family can attest, this was an unfamiliar feeling. I was “supposed to” be good at things. New things were supposed to come easy to me. I forgot what it felt like to try something so very new.
I kept at the driving, eventually getting the hang of switching gears and feeling out the road. The “getting it” feeling was such a high, and was so worth the agony of the learning process. The next time an opportunity to try something new and interesting presents itself, I hope I’ll remember this experience and stick to two key questions: What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best?
(For anyone interested in sharing, when was the last time you tried something totally new?)
posted by amybetho