On Beginning Of New Stuff or Because Jim Already Stole The Title I Was Going To Use

After wandering off base last week I decided that it would be prudent to play ball this week and hit this “trying new things” thing out of the park. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. I noticed I used two baseball related linguistic metaphors in the sentence and thought I should finish it with a third. I’m a terrible person, but I digress. Okay, starting new things. Of all the things I have done (or probably will do) in my life, the starting of something new has always the hardest. Whether it’s staring a new new job, learning to drive, or going back to school, new things always seem to fill me with a certain measure of dread. I don’t like eating new foods, meeting new people, or going to new places. I like to say that part of this is that I am naturally introverted and part of it is that I like what I like, but regardless, things have a way of conspiring to drive me out into the world, do new things, and keep on keeping on.

As near as I can figure it’s always been this way. Even as a child I can remember hating to do new things. The first day of school each year was terrifying; new classroom, new people, new teacher. I had problems will school bullies as a kid and I can remember my father taking me to this martial arts school to see if I wanted to sign up for self defence classes. We sat there together at the side of the room watching a class in progress and then took a tour around the place. In the end I didn’t want to go. I found the whole experience mortifying. I was more afraid of going to that karate class than I was of getting beat up at school. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t know anyone there and I wouldn’t have any idea what to do. I felt that I would be hopelessly out of place and I didn’t really see any way that I could possibly succeed. It seems silly now, but this I still get these same feelings when I try something new today.

new-pathI’ve never been able to determine to what extent other people have these same kinds of feelings. Being terrified of trying new things just isn’t something I like to talk about. In fact as I write this I’m having a bit of a hard time. It doesn’t help that the logical part of my brain is kind of rolling its eyes and sneering, because it just seems so silly. Obviously some other people have the same kind problems but then there are some who ostensibly do not. My mother says of my younger sister “she’s fearless” and we both often marvel at the way she just goes about life. She just goes out there and does whatever she has to do to live her life, take care of her kids and get things done. I often wonder if she (and others who seem to be like her) are actually fearless or just and terrified as I am but better at hiding it.

Maybe it’s a matter of motivation. There are sometimes when the motivations I have to do a new thing far outweigh the fear I have of doing it. There was a time when I got laid off and I think I was more terrified of not being able to take care of my self than I was about having to go out and find a new job. I just put my head down and got it done. It could also be a matter of confidence. I certainly find it intimidating to do something I have no confidence in my ability to do. I’ve driven for a grand total of 20 minutes of my entire life and I certainly have trouble imagining wanting to drive. However when it comes to something I do have confidence in like the soldering I used to do at my old job or cooking, or playing video games I have no issues trying a new variation on that thing. It might take a few hours to learn a new soldering technique but I never was afraid to try because I was confident my abilities were up to the task. In fact going through a specific new thing at least once gets me over most of the hump. After the first day at a new job usually most of the jitters are gone.

were-trying-new-things-e1350410124122By now it must sound like I live my life in some kind of semi-permanent state of terror but of course I don’t. As a (more of less) productive adult I do have to go out into the world and try new things. I must set goals that broaden my understanding of the world and enrich this experience that is life then go out and meet them. I must come up with ways to overcome the fear I have of starting new things. One of the best ways I found to do this is by finding someone to do the new thing with you. I would not have started writing here at Concept Crucible (nor continued doing so) without Jim to encourage and support me. I never would have considered quitting my job and going back to school if not for the support of my girlfriend. When I wanted to take up running, which is something I have been trying to start for a while, she was also my running buddy and main support. She also encourages me to think about things like travel which is pretty outside my comfort zone. I also try to make sure that my trepidations are put into perspective. Many of the fears I have are fairly unreasonable. When I’m getting ready to go to a party and meet new people I never want to go. I convince myself to go by reminding myself that without out fail I will go, have fun, and be glad I went.

I also think that I can’t underestimate the role that habit plays in my resistance to trying new things. Like I said before, sometimes I just know what I like but I think that we all know that doing something because we’ve always done it that way isn’t always a sufficient reason to continue so. I am nothing if not a creature of habit but sometimes I just have to break out of my comfort zone and try new things. Trying new things is and always will be an ongoing project for me, and I guess I’ll just have to leave it at that.


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