Being a Beginner Sucks…Until it Doesn’t
When you first start a new job, a new career, a new hobby, or really a new anything there’s a long period of time where it feels like no matter how hard you work, you are never going to really understand what you are doing. You’re overwhelmed. You’re in over your head. It’s only a matter of time before everyone finds out you’re a fraud — the house of cards is about to collapse and panic sets in.
We’ve all been there. It’s a horrible feeling. But at some point along the way, everything starts to click and then like that, it’s over. There’s an epiphany. The world begins to make sense again.
When I was in law school, it took me over two years before things clicked. The first two years it felt like no matter how hard I worked, everyone was smarter than I was and my grade point average reflected this reality. But by my third and final year I’d finally figured out how the game works. It clicked. I stopped buying the assigned books altogether and primarily relied on Wikipedia and study guides. That year I got almost all A’s.
The other night I had one of those similar ‘click’ moments. Brittany decided to take a free Acroyoga class that was taking place in the bottom of our building. (In case you are wondering, Acroyoga is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a form of acrobatic partner yoga created by the devil to punish inflexible middle aged husbands).
There was no way I was going. We had gone once before in Chicago to one of these acroyoga classes and I was easily the worst in the class. I had no intention to subjecting myself to that again. Instead, I planned to sit comfortably on the couch and watch the Daily Show without any other human being, wife or otherwise, trying to balance on my shoulders or stand on my abdomen.
About 30 seconds into settling in on the couch, there was a knock on the door. It was Brittany.
There are an odd number of people in the class. I don’t have a partner. Will you come be my partner?
I let out a half-audible groan, which Brittany correctly understood to mean yes.
In my head I already know I’m going to be the worst in the class. But whatever, I could use some exercise and how bad could it be?
After 15 minutes of some relatively easy partner stretching, we start getting into it.
The teacher announces we are going into bird pose. I am supposed to lie on my back, stick my feet up in the air at a 90 degree angle and Brittany is going to lie on my feet, perfectly balanced, arms spread out like an airplane like these-nature loving acroyogis below.
Apparently, this is the most basic foundational pose for Acroyoga, but to me this was some Cirque du Soleil style, next level shit.
We had attempted this pose in the class we took back in Chicago and I had failed spectacularly in my first attempt. I knew the result this time was going to be the same.
And I was right. Others in the class were seemingly doing it with relative ease. After four or five attempts, nothing. Even with Brittany who is a yoga teacher as my partner, we couldn’t do it. But we kept trying and on the sixth or seventh attempt we did it! Something clicked! I don’t know what it was and I’m not sure what we did differently but all of a sudden we were in sync. Brittany was flying!! And from that point on we could do it, and it felt like a real accomplishment.
I’m glad I ended up giving acroyoga a second chance. Nothing is fun when you are a beginner. You totally suck and feel like you’ll never improve. Your mind begins to play games with you and you think “what if this is the level I’m going to be stuck at for the rest of my life? I am going to be a total failure.”
Fortunately, these head games we play with ourselves are not reality. It might take awhile but eventually something clicks and you feel like you are on top of the world.