It's hard for me to feel like a beginner. A beginner isn't just trying something new one time or taking a class. Being a beginner is those things and more. It's the awkwardness of having to think and be conscious with what you're working on. It's the groundlessness of not really knowing how you're doing. Are you doing it right? Are you doing it well? Are you moving at the "right" pace? Only having other people to compare yourself to-even tho you know you shouldn't how can you not? Being a beginner is working really hard and still messing it up. It's having to see how far you have to go-not how far you've come. Because of the way I grew up I can't stand being a beginner. I envy people who feel like they're allowed to make a mistake. I look at people who were raised with family that encouraged and loved on them when they made mistakes because I know they don't feel the terror of fucking up. I've done a huge amount of healing but I can still feel in my body the shaming that was done to me when I "messed up", the hitting or the worst-the withholding of love. To be honest there is not a single thing in my life I don't have at least one tiny thought that I might be messing this up. I'm constantly questioning myself-it might not be big or derailing but I'm pretty sure this tiny fear of punishment walks with me always. An expert in adult education would tell you-Oh wait I am an expert in adult education-this makes learning new things very difficult. But let's not despair-the beauty of our whole being is it was designed to not only protect us but also to support our healing. Last year I joined a dance class. I ended up being so comfortable I joined a dance team. A few weekends ago I performed in front of people! Honestly, I'm terrible at dancing. It takes me forever to learn and I still mess up but I can't believe how far I have come and how much fun I have. It would be easy for me to look at other people who learn fast or have dancing experience and think I'm just bad at dancing and shouldn't do it. It would be easy to say I don't have a talent for it or it's not in my blood. But by doing this dance class I'm getting the experience of being a beginner. It has been incredibly uncomfortable the last year or so because there has been a lot of opportunities for being a beginner. I started a business-I'm learning about taxes and deductions. I'm learning about social media, newsletters, launching groups, connecting with people, advertising etc. Almost everything I'm doing now feels brand new-especially in this phase of the pandemic. One new thing I've always wanted to do is Capoeira. So last Monday I went to my first class. It was brutal. In the middle of it I really started to sink in my thoughts of I can't do this-what was I thinking, everyone is in so much better shape-I'll never get this. I survived the class and it put in my mind how grateful I am that I've healed enough to be able to tolerate being a beginner. I was able to breathe and remind myself it was my first time ever. That this is only the beginning. So many of us talk ourselves out of new things automatically that most of us don't even try to do things we dream of.
We've talked ourselves into believing the very possible is impossible. And this is what I want to share this month. That to be a beginner is actually a beautiful gift. There are many programs out there in all kinds of areas where people offer a package where at the end you have some product-they sell you on learning from their "mistakes". This could be great but are we avoiding the discomfort of being a beginner? What do we lose when we don't allow space to make "mistakes", to try on our own or with support, to toddle towards something, to practice and practice and still be terrible. What do we lose when there's no space to be a beginner? By learning how to be a beginner in dance I've been able to apply that to being a beginner in other areas of my life. I apply these practices to my relational healing-to building relationships I want instead of accepting mediocrity. I feel more open to the idea that life is a series of beginnings. I can work at not staying stuck, not hiding, not being afraid of punishment. I invite you to be a beginner with me-we're not in this alone.