I just moved my office into an aerial dance studio, which is very exciting. (If you’ve never heard of aerial, think circus – here's a google images link.) I started taking classes, which is so fun... and I am so terrible at it. I don’t have a lot of upper body strength, I can’t do even one pull-up, so the teacher tells us to climb up the fabric and I can get about half an inch off the ground. It’s absurdly, comically difficult. It’s my new favorite thing, and I think I love it so much because I’m so bad at it. I don’t do a lot of things that I truly suck at, especially physical things. I hate running, but hating something and being terrible at something are different feelings. Turns out being terrible at aerial dance is really, really fun.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the feeling of being a complete beginner. I think it’s an important mindset to maintain, especially as an adult when fewer things in life are totally new. I think there’s a point where people go from “this is hard” to “this is impossible.” It’s very easy to slowly expand the list of things that are impossible, and very difficult to expand the list of things that are just hard. Aerial dance is a good metaphor for me right now. When there are fewer totally new things in your life, encountering something new is scarier. Failure is scarier the less often we experience it. The feeling of being terrible at aerial dance is the feeling of it being okay to fail. That failing at something doesn’t mean that thing is impossible.
I heard this story in a seminar a few months ago: What if we told parents whose babies are learning to walk that falling down is not okay – your baby falls down a lot, maybe walking just isn’t for him. He doesn’t need to keep trying, he can just stick to crawling, he’s great at that. Just stick to what you know.
Crazy idea, right? So why do we do that to ourselves as adults?
This week, go be terrible at something and tell me about it in the comments. (If you want to come try aerial dance, go here.)