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Career Dream Killer Series Part 4: Fear of Being a Beginner

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You’ve got to be a beginner before you can be anything else. I became a hockey player in my 40s. I will say this. It really sucked at first. Yes, I did wallow in my own ineptitude for a time. It was awkward and embarrassing. I wanted to quit.

This is the part of the story that sometimes doesn’t get told. Yes, trying new things is exciting and mind-expanding and all that, but it can also be incredibly humbling and uncomfortable. Unfortunately for beginners of all things everywhere, sitting with the discomfort of failure is inevitable if you want to learn a new language, or take up golf, or join a hockey team, or whatever new venture you have in mind.

Here are a few ways to feel a little better about launching yourself into a new experience – and help you get over the hump of that initial misery to the part where it’s actually fun (it’s been almost 2 years for me playing hockey. I am still terrible, but now I actually do have fun).

I always say “when in doubt, normalize”. Often, the simple act of reminding our self that we are not, despite what our granny might have told us, a special snowflake can get us past some our of own nonsense. Many have come before us and survived the pain of feeling like a beginner at something. Of feeling like the worst player, the slowest runner, the least coordinated, or smart. That’s simply how life rolls. Nobody is immune.

Remember it’s fine and normal to not love something new right away.

Also, when we are a beginner at something we are pretty sure that everyone around us is staring at us with a telescopic lens. This, I assure you, is not the case. Nobody is looking at you or thinking anything about you. They are in their own head worrying about whether they remembered to take the meat out of the freezer for dinner, or if the smell they are smelling is coming from them or somebody else. So…Remember that no one’s paying attention to you.

The other part of it is that in the unlikely chance that somebody is paying attention to you and thinking something, you have no way of knowing what it is. So why spend time trying to guess? Here's a secret: you're a terrible mind reader. Sure, they might be thinking you're terrible but they're equally as likely to be thinking you're brave. Eventually you've got to get yourself to a point where the only persons opinion that really matters is your own. You become okay with feeling a little embarrassed, scared, or humbled. Why shouldn't you? This is life and nobody ever said you should only feel happy or excited or overjoyed. Those things only taste sweet because you've had a taste of the sour.

Also, if you go in thinking that you’re going to suck, you’re more likely to prove yourself right. You have to find something better to think and make yourself think it. Find something that makes you feel a bit better than “I’m going to suck” that you truly believe and practice it. Something like “everybody starts shaky, it doesn’t mean I can’t improve”. So…Go in with the right mind-set.

You’ve got to manage expectations. If you assume that whatever new thing you’re attempting is going to be easy and you just wing it, that might work out for you but it might not. Have an idea of what you’re getting into. Looking back, I probably could have actually learned how to skate before jumping into playing hockey! Read a book, watch a You Tube video—all possible considerations to dip your toe into something before jumping all in. So…Prepare before you start.

Let me know your thoughts! Find me over on Instagram or if you want to talk about it more, set up a time to chat!

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