Courage doesn’t always roar.
In fact, most days courage is a quiet feeling that slowly bubbles up to the surface as a faint whisper, either in your own mind or in your ear from someone close to you that you trust; a whisper of conviction that says, yes you can. And while courage doesn’t always come as the loudest voice, it is unshakable in persistence.
The first steps on a new path always require a little courage. Let’s face it, jumping into something new is daunting and sometimes self doubt and the fear of failure can hinder us from ever beginning something new. Our minds so quickly morph, ‘I don’t know’ into ‘I’ll never know’ or ‘I’m not worthy of knowing’ or even, ‘I’m not good enough to learn’. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, and frankly if we’re challenging ourselves regularly, then were probably facing self doubt and the fear of failure more than we’d like. While it’s natural to feel intimidated, nervous, and even incompetent, it’s important to be reminded that those feelings don’t define you – don’t write yourself into that story, that doesn’t need to be your narrative. And no matter how loud self doubt and fear scream- and boy it can be loud – don’t let those cries stop you from living a life you’re interested in and passionate about.
I began 2017 by jumping into two new skills/art forms I’m extremely excited by and interested in learning about. I know very little about either of these new interests, and believe me when I say that there are days when it feels like everyone knows more than I do. Anyway, one of these interests is the art of outdoor climbing. Zack (my main squeeze) is a very knowledgeable climber, but even with his encouragement I’ve still had to tango with a few stiffening bouts of self doubt and intimidation.
Last week I had a minor meltdown while futzing around with rope and learning to use the belay device. After taking a step back for a few days, yesterday I decided to hope back in the climbing saddle – or rather the harness.
Let me be clear, belaying ( being the safety anchor for a climber) is very straightforward, simple, and easy to learn – ask the least experiences climber you can find and they’ll tell you it’s a piece of cake to pick up. That said, it’s been a bit of a nerve wracking challenge for me to do. More than once my mind has race race race as I stood at the ropes, and before I even try to do anything my pride shrivels up and I convince myself that I can’t do it, that I don’t know how, and that I’m utterly alone in my ‘not knowing’. Needless to say, learning to belay put me knee deep in the process of watching how my greatest obstacles are the ones I construct in my own mind.
Well, yesterday I changed that story…
I woke up yesterday morning and kindly reminded myself that my thirst to learn and experiences is far greater than any self doubt or insecurity I may feel. I reminded myself that I’m not perfect; and frankly I don’t have time to try to be perfect because I have a messy and beautifully imperfect life I’m busy living. And that realization and affirmation created a tiny space in my mind where I could protect the grain of confidence I would need to prove to myself that: 1. I can do anything I put my mind to, 2. I’m not afraid of failing, and 3. I CAN belay a climber, god dammit! And surprise, I walk up to the belay device, tie my knots, and safely belayed the hell out of Zack as he climbed to his heart’s desire. Yesterday I did everything I set out to do. Am I the smoothest belayer ever? Nope. Do I still have a hell of a lot to learn? Absolutely! I suppose I need the to be reminded that my ability to get better and learn is completely dependent on my willingness to try, possibly fail, and to keep trying.
“If your Never, deny you, Go above your Never”- Emily Dickinson
Sure the challenge of learning to belay is personal to me, and it may even seem trivial to some, but the moral of the story is universal and important: how our own self doubt can cripple us from trying something new, how it can stop us in our tracks before we ever begin.
So if you’re with me in the trenches of beginner-dom, or on the fence about beginning something new, remember:
It’s 100% okay to not know what you’re doing some of the the time.
It’s 100% okay to learn slowly.
It’s 100% okay to feel lost.
It’s 100% okay to feel like you suck sometimes.
And It’s 100% okay to try, possibly fail, and try again.
Do not let your mind stop you from digging into every thing you’re interest in, inspired by, or curious about! The only way to become a master at anything is through consistent practice, and in order to practice you have to first begin. Your humility is your greatest inspiration, I promise you this.
How do you challenge yourself? How are you helping yourself grow and open up? What are you working on or towards? What are you interested in beginning? What inspires you?
Whatever it is, you can. Do it.