“New” is kind of a scary word, isn’t it? A lot of us don’t like new things – new food, new shows, new people (yes, even if you’re an extrovert), and so on. The unknown frightens us – we’re afraid of getting hurt, making a mistake, embarrassing ourselves. It’s normal to be a little scared of new things, but when we let the terror of the unknown control our lives, we end up stuck.
I promise not to ramble about life’s mysteries or theorize as to why we as humans are so afraid of new things in the first place. Instead, I wanted to share a few thoughts on trying new things and why it’s important. After all, you don’t want to be stuck in the same place your entire life, do you?
I keep a list in my bullet journal called “Things to Learn (or to Try).” It’s not a very long list, but it’s a list nonetheless. Anytime I think of a new skill or activity I want to try, I add it to the list. I have things like coding, racquetball, crocheting, and dancing, along with a few others. It’s a weird assortment, isn’t it? A lot of very different things, and honestly, they’re not things I would typically associate with myself.
That’s why I made it one of my goals this year to learn new skills. Even though the progress towards that goal isn’t turning out the same way I thought it would, I’m still making an effort to try new things, and that’s what’s important to me.
However, just because I made that one of my goals, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Part of that has to do with time management, which is why I made this a goal in the first place. When I’m trying to learn something new, I add it to my daily habit tracker, and for every day I make time to practice that skill, I color the box in. It helps me make sure I make time for learning new things.
Even with good time management though, learning new skills can often fall to the bottom of my priority list. Some of that is related to overwhelming schedules, but I think it also has to do with fear in some ways.
At the beginning of every semester at my school, there’s a “Student Involvement” fair where all of the clubs and organizations on campus set up booths at the Student Union in hopes of recruiting new members. At one of these fairs this semester, I decided to stop by the table for Swing Dance Club, and I signed up to receive their emails. It was on a whim, but later that month when they started announcing when their first lessons would be, I decided I’d give it a shot.
Now, I have no sense of rhythm (my brother inherited all of the musical talent in my family) and zero dancing experience. I was scared of stepping on someone’s foot or just making a fool of myself. Despite that, I went anyway, and I had a great time! Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since then since the lessons didn’t work out with my schedule, But that’s not to say I’m upset that I went. On the contrary, I really enjoyed it.
All this to say, trying new things is bound to be nerve-wracking. One of the things I’ve found that helps is doing something with a friend, whether they’re experienced or not. When I went to the swing dance club, I went with one of my friends who had gone before, and hanging out with her made me more comfortable. When I went to my first Comic-Con a few months ago, I went with my friend Kiara, and we had a great time together.
Another thing that often encourages me to try new things is thinking about what lies ahead after the “leap,” so to speak. When I started learning how to code in HTML and CSS, it was slow, and I often got frustrated when I couldn’t figure out an issue. When that happened, I had to remind myself that I was doing this so I could learn how to build basic website, which I could hopefully translate to my blog someday. Now that I can use HTML and CSS, I have been able to create custom elements for my blog, and I can see that my hard work was useful.
Sometimes, when we’re afraid of trying new things, I think we lose sight of the rewards that lie ahead. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from trying something new, even if you’re not good at it or even like it, trying new things feels good.
And finally, there are times when we want to try new things, but they don’t fit with who we are. Who ever heard of an English major who like sports? English majors are a bunch of introverted nerds, they’d never play basketball or racquetball or watch football. How absurd!
Sometimes, we confine ourselves to boxes. It’s as if there’s some unspoken rule that says we can’t do X because we’re Y. There are people who are going to tell you that, and you know what? It’s a load of garbage. Just because your main interests lie in one area, that doesn’t mean you’re “not allowed” to try something else. One of my English major friends is also the president of the Physics Club on campus. You’re allowed to enjoy and be interested in a variety of things, and if anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them and press on.
Stepping out of the familiar is uncomfortable and terrifying, so we often choose to stay inside our comfort zone instead. But what would happen if we decided to “do the thing” instead? Maybe it’s time we stood up against fears and the expectations of others and started trying new things.
How do you feel about trying new things? What motivates you to do so? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time!