Courage to try Something New


Chapter Six

Courage to try Something New

Life tends to go in cycles, like the seasons of nature.  It can take courage to try something new!  It can sometimes take something fairly jarring in life to get me to change.  I often fear change, like my life might get swept away or I might forget who I am.  Having the courage to change can come on any day, when you realize things just aren’t working.  If you tune into how you feel and you generally feel like crap, why not try something new and see if you enjoy it?

I remember when I first learned to ride a bike.  At first I wouldn’t even get on because I was scared I would fall.  Then a neighborhood friend held onto the handlebars while I just got used to pedaling.  And before I knew it I was off and biking every chance I could get. 

The courage to try and ride that bike came from a desire deep within.  I wanted the freedom to get around my neighborhood and ride bikes with friends.  When you focus on the desire or end result, it can make it a lot easier to try something new.  Even just focusing on how joyful an activity makes you feel can get you out of the perfectionist mindset long enough to get your feet wet.

Perfectionism is the greatest hurdle to beginning any new endeavor.  It can keep you playing really small in life and can seem to freeze you and your life into a sort of unchanging caricature.  I remember back when I was a stark perfectionist, and to be honest I have never been more miserable in my entire life.  I was scared to try anything new and scared to rock the boat in any way.  I had so much fear of what others would think and I was nervous to try new things because I didn’t want to look like a fool. 

The thing is that as human beings, nobody is perfect!  Perfection is simply a myth created by society to sell products and get people to live in a certain way.  But honestly it truly doesn’t even exist.  So have the courage to try out some new things.  And start very small. 

Let’s say that you have always loved plants but never thought of yourself as a green thumb.  So you stay away from the garden section of your supermarket and turn down any gifts of plants that your friends give you or give them away to someone else.  Perfectionism will have you believe that that you have to maintain a perfect image, or that somehow trying something new is a great risk to your ego.  It can be quite frightening to risk looking like a fool when you are just getting started at a new hobby.

Beat perfectionism at its game and do something messy on purpose!  Make a shitty artwork just to prove that you can pick up a pencil, or buy a cactus that only needs watered once a month.  Or choose to create a recipe with only a couple of ingredients.  Start simple and small and choose one tiny step toward the hobby of your dreams.  When you allow yourself to make some mistakes, it gives you the courage to open yourself up to a whole new way of living that feels incredible!

What if you Try and Fail?

Figuring out what you are passionate about is a process.  And being willing to try some new things will begin to create a sort of domino effect in life.  You might not wind up enjoying everything you try, but that is totally ok!  Try to document your new experiences in a journal to figure out what you love and don’t. 

In my own art making journey I have dabbled in all sorts of creative pursuits.  Sometimes I have made great art and sometimes my efforts have fallen short.  Sometimes it is challenging to my ego when things don’t turn out the way I want them too, but my passion always brings me back to try again in a new way. 

Be gentle with yourself when you are trying new things.  It can be a challenge to be a beginner, and often I feel like a beginner over and over again.  In time you will get used to that feeling and may even come to cherish it!  Just know that the world will not fall apart if you try out a new hobby and it doesn’t turn out to be something you really like.  Start with a small investment first to be sure you really enjoy something so that the stakes are not that high.  Then once you figure out what you love you can invest more time and resources.

Instead of Limitations, Play Up Your Strengths

You may have a case of the “Yes, buts”…like I sometimes go through.  It is really a wicked sort of fear to dish out excuses for why you don’t want to change your life.  Everyone has limitations in life.  Let’s say you have always dreamed of becoming the President, but you have a felony conviction for theft.  That dream of becoming President might just be out of the cards. 

As another more down to earth example, I have always wanted to work in the arts.  I’ve been an artist in one form or another pretty much since I was a kid.  That passion has gone through lots of different metamorphosis, from music and poetry to sewing to visual art and back again.  I’m terrified to show my work in a gallery!  Even though I have painted damn near a thousand paintings, I simply don’t want to show my work in public.  I have social anxiety and approaching galleries for representation just isn’t my thing. 

So I could sit and wallow in pity, focusing on my limitations.  But I have chosen another way to go about my dreams.  I play up my strengths!

In the example of the President, maybe it’s not in the cards for you to sit in the Oval Office.  But if you break that dream down into its smaller parts, there could be a way to bring that overall passion into your life.  You could sign up to hand out flyers for the political campaign of your choice before the next election.  You could put signs in your yard and slap a bumper sticker on your car that gets the word out about the candidates you believe in.  You could be part of rallies and get involved in lots of other ways that would satisfy that desire.

Try this to figure out your strengths.  Create a list of everything you have ever been even remotely good at.  Then create another list of things you could realistically do to play up those strengths and apply them to your life and passions. 

In my case, I love creating art but don’t want to show in a gallery.  I also love writing and sharing on social media.  So I have a blog to share my art and post my paintings on social sites.  That gets my work out in a way that I’m comfortable with and that really works for my life.