Have you ever wanted to try something new, but were too scared to do it? Did you ever put your fear aside and choose to do it anyway? Did you succeed? Did you fail?
Here are my answers: Yes. Yes. Yes and No. Yes and No.
This summer, I decided to try a new workout studio. You should know that all exercise for me is a minefield. I’m not completely uncoordinated, but I’m definitely not a natural athlete. Also, like many other women in their 40’s, I’m obsessively hyperaware about what others might think about me while I’m exercising. I know in my head that no one is probably paying any attention to me while I’m training because they are too absorbed in worrying about their own appearances, but my rational self disappears when I’m sweating through a workout. Even so, I try to give off a confident vibe; it takes a fair amount of effort for me to look like I don’t care when I do.
Before I decided to try this new place, I clicked around its website for more information. Not only did the classes look beyond challenging, the featured pictures were of super duper fit people. I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have stopped my research there, but I didn’t. Instead, I called for more information. My brain obviously had an agenda that my ego didn’t know about, because when I hung up the phone, I had made an appointment to actually go and try the studio out! It’s been almost seven months now of weekly workouts at this place, and I’m pretty amazed that I’m still going. I continue to worry about what I look like while I’m there, but I’m so proud of myself after every completed session. Plus, my trainer always knows when I need support, egging me on when I’m ready to quit trying. Failure be damned… I’m succeeding… slowly.
I have a friend who recently decided to learn how to tap dance, and jokes that she’s the oldest student in the room. Another friend went back to graduate school after already enjoying the success of a full career. The Hubby, on a whim, decided to train for a marathon. I plunged into a new workout studio. All of us are expanding the definitions of ourselves, and it’s scary, and fantastic, at the same time.
Learning something new is a big challenge. It’s hard to put yourself out there as a novice, willing to fail, especially when you are older and accustomed to knowing what you are doing most of the time. So, when does our learning really happen? When we succeed, or when we fail? This is where I’m supposed to say that I’ve gained more through failure than success, but I’m not completely sure that’s true. Many of my achievements did ultimately come after missed attempts, but I can’t say that I ever viewed my trials as outright failures. Even in complete flops, there was always a glimmer of improvement or a new piece of the puzzle. I’d like to think that my most sound accomplishments to date are the result of mini-successes, not repetitive failures. It’s all in how you look at it.
Message of the Day: Learning requires both success and failure, but isn’t an either/or process. Every now and again, challenge yourself with something new; be positive and forgiving of any missteps you might make along the way. How you choose to view the path to your goal is completely up to you.