March 10, 2020
Last week I sat on my yoga mat, already sweating from the heat of the room. Only it wasn’t just the heat that was making me sweat. It was the idea that the teacher might ask if it was my first time. And guess what? It was my first time at a new studio. I was already nervous before I walked in the door. I had to really get up the courage to go somewhere new. It was a new place with new people and new procedures. What if I did something silly? What if I stood out as someone new that didn’t know what they were doing? What if someone laughed at me?
For most people, these may not be the questions in your head when you walk into a new situation, but for me? It happens every dang time. I cannot stand being a newbie. I want to be an expert at everything before I’ve even tried it. I want to fit in and be the person that already has all the lingo, the style, the energy of the place I’m walking into down pat. I don’t like to ask questions like, “Where is the bathroom?” at a restaurant. I want to already know. As I write this I realize even more how ridiculous this all sounds, but for me, it’s a reality.
When I think about it, this all comes from deep insecurity I have from elementary up through high school. I was not one of the cool kids. I didn’t know their words, their mysterious ways and the only way I got let into the cool kids’ club was because I could make them laugh. However, I only wanted them to laugh when I was purposefully doing so, not at my expense…which seemed to happen more often than the former kind of laughter.
So, as I grew up I learned to silently read my surroundings, to try to fit in before I even had a chance to stand out. In a restaurant, my eyes dart around a room when I walk in, looking for the doors to the restroom—God forbid I should accidentally walk into the kitchen and look like an idiot.
I guess some people, this doesn’t bother. They accidentally step their foot into the kitchen, realize it’s not where they’re supposed to be, chuckle, step back out and politely ask someone where they can find the restroom. I am a little jealous of these people that don’t take their embarrassment so seriously. I am working to be one of those people. Because as it is, I am setting myself to be someone that isn’t comfortable in new surroundings and trying new things is what I preach and if I can’t practice what I preach, then what am I even doing here? I need to let go of wanting to control my embarrassment. At people only laughing at me when I say so, at a specific time and in a specific place.
I don’t need to be a cool kid anymore. Actually, I think being a cool kid is overrated and way too much pressure. If people laugh and stare, let them laugh and stare. I love the spotlight, but apparently, only under certain circumstances.
All of this to say, last night I decided I was being ridiculous. I went back to that same studio, I sat on my mat and when the teacher asked, “Is this anyone’s first time in hot power fusion” I raised my hand waiting for all the heads to turn and stare at me. But not many people turned and certainly, those that did didn’t turn to stare they turned to smile and welcome me. The teacher walked over to me and introduced herself. She was kind and warm and lovely. The whole community was. So, as I sat there and judged them all, deciding who was going to be mean or who was going to judge me, they sat there welcoming me. Beckoning me to practice with them.
I had to laugh at myself and I really felt bad for having judged people exactly the way I was worried they would judge me. I am the culprit, not them. Being a beginner, or not knowing the answer to something doesn’t make you uncool, or stupid, or weird. It makes you a beginner—which is not a four-letter word (I mean, come on it has eight whole letters). It means you are starting something new and how exciting? It means it’s okay to ask questions or to not already know how things work. It’s not time for panic and anxiety to set in, but excitement. And this can apply to anything: a new job, a new class, or a new group of friends, or plain just not knowing the answer to something.
It’s okay to not have all the answers, it’s okay to ask questions. In fact, it’s great to ask questions and be bold and be brave in a room full of strangers. It doesn’t matter what they think of you. When a waiter comes over and asks, “Is this your first time dining with us?” I won’t lie anymore and say, “yes,” just because I don’t want them to judge my never having been to such a cool restaurant because I realize it is only me judging myself. It is all a creation in my head because some people as I grew up made me feel silly and insecure when I didn’t know the answers to things or when I did something that was “uncool.”
Cheers to the uncool, the weird, the wrong, the different, the not knowing the answer, the asking the question, walking into the kitchen instead of the bathroom, to being an awesome newbie, cheers to it all.
I don’t think I’m alone in not liking being a beginner, right? Anyone else out there understand this strange feeling of not liking to admit when they don’t know something? Of making up an answer instead of saying, “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you?” It’s not fun all the time, but it doesn’t make you bad at your job to not have all the answers. It doesn’t make you stupid or uncool to not know how things work, it just makes you new and hallelujah for new things. They’re beautiful! And special! And…wait for it—new!
Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you relish all the new experiences today. I hope you ask questions at school or work or in your version of a yoga class. You are awesome as newbies, as experienced-bies, as it all, just as you are. Love you lots. XOXOX, CAMDW.