You guys, I love being good at stuff. I absolutely love it. I love when I’m doing something in my area of expertise, and I know that I’m just totally rocking it. Success fuels me. And being in my element and feeling like an expert is just the best feeling in the world.
Feel free to admit it too… It’s fun to show off a little bit! It’s fun to be in charge and have everyone look up to you because you know it all! It’s fun to be an expert!
You know what isn’t fun? Being a beginner.
Stumbling around a new office, learning a new program, or taking a new class with everyone who has been in it before just stinks. You’re confused and overwhelmed. You’re sure you’re never going to figure it out. You just feel embarrassed and small. And if I could live the rest of my life never feeling like a beginner, that would be amazing.
But you know what’s really annoying? To become an expert, you have to first become a beginner.
Ughhhhh I know right?? What an annoying little footnote on the way to success. Can’t I just automatically be good at everything, so I never have to experience that embarrassment or doubt?
I mean, honestly, I could. I could just keep doing what I know. I could keep practicing my old techniques. Continue my same old diet and exercise plan. Communicate with my loved ones in the same way I’ve always done. I could keep up exactly what I’ve been doing forever. I would be good at the things I’m good at, and I simply wouldn’t understand what I don’t already know?
Sounds like a good and fulfilling life for you???
Yeah. Me either.
Humans are built to grow and to strive for new levels of success and understanding. Being stagnant goes against our nature. Just like athletes work to increase their stats each week or artists constantly learn new techniques, we must constantly work to improve. And learning something new means admitting you don’t know it already
Now, I don’t think any of this information is new. We’ve all heard this story time and time again of how nobody starts out as perfect and everybody has to work their way up to success. I hope I’m not assuming when I say we all understand and anticipate the hard work that goes into becoming an expert.
But what about the hard work that goes into being a beginner?
Right or wrong, for a long time, I’ve simply believed that I’m good at everything I need to be good at. I went to school, got a degree, have worked for a few years. I have this professional performer/artist/creator life down. I spent a whole lot of years, from childhood to college of feeling like a beginner. I deserve to enjoy the spoils of not ever being a beginner again.
I know this sounds crazy and narcissistic, but it's my truth and something I’m constantly working on reframing. And listen, I know I’m extremely young, but the thought of being labeled as a beginner again was just really hard to handle.
You know what recently broke me? A new workout plan.
My aunt is an incredible strength and conditioning coach. She’s trained athletes that went on to the Olympics and she has impacted a lot of lives. Moving really reinvigorated me to start working out, so I asked her to help me put together a workout plan.
Because she still lives back home, she’s been training me remotely. I’ve been sending her videos of my workouts and my technique. Now, I admit that I’m not a world class bodybuilder, but I thought I knew my way around a gym. I’m feeling good about the videos, I’m breathing through my movements and thinking about alignment, I’ve totally got this.
Boy, was I wrong.
The first time I called my aunt for feedback, she responded with a simple “we’ve got some work to do. You’re just a beginner now, but we’re absolutely going to get you where you need to be.”
To most people this would sound like a great and encouraging vote of confidence, which is exactly how it was intended. But I heard the word “beginner,” and I just fell apart.
How dare anyone label me as a beginner?? I mean I took two fitness classes my freshman year of college! I watch pilates videos at home to exercise! I’ve been going to the gym ever since I got here!
Well, irrational Amanda, let’s let logical Amanda look at those three statements. Yes, you took classes in college, but that was literally six years ago, do you really expect to still be at that level? Yes, you do yoga and pilates YouTube videos at home, but no one is checking your technique and sometimes you don’t even make it through the whole 30 minutes without a break. And yes, since you got to Florida, you have been good about going to the gym, good for you! But all you do is speed walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes then do an ab circuit that really doesn’t challenge you.
So according to your aunt, a fully trained professional with many years of great experience, you’re 100% a beginner. Logical Amanda agrees, and irrational Amanda is starting to accept that.
Then my aunt brought up the quote that today’s post is based around. “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” - Helen Hayes.
She wasn’t disappointed in me because I wasn’t already perfect. In fact she was excited to work with a blank canvas. She didn’t ask for greatness right away, she just asked for my willingness to try. She assured me that even though I was a beginner now, she would help me get to more advanced levels.
As I’ve been working on the program she has sent me, I’ve had to absolutely embrace being a beginner. My body is learning new movements and how to do them properly while my brain is working on not judging the work. And slowly but surely, I feel myself improving. I feel myself getting stronger. I can tell I’m getting better.
Never would I have gotten this far if I had decided on day one that learning something new was too hard or that I was too good for it. No one is above starting at a beginning level and working to improve from there, especially me.
So from now on, rather than bragging about being an expert at something, I’m going to start shouting from the rooftops that I am a brave beginner! I’m learning something new! I’m growing! I’m advancing!
I’m going to seek out new teachers and admit when I need help. I’m going to embrace the vulnerability of not starting from a place of perfection. I’m going to fall down, then get back up that much stronger.
As you read this, is there something you’ve been wanting to start, but were too scared? Do you feel too old to be a beginner in something? Are you a little prideful and you hate the idea of relying on someone else’s expertise? Well then I challenge you to be a brave beginner today. I can’t wait to see where it takes you.