I’ve been thinking a lot about being a beginner lately.

You see, I live a pretty conflicted life in this regard. For starters, I hate sucking at things, which is often my lot as a perennial beginner. That, of course, doesn’t work too well with my somewhat incessant drive to be starting something new. If I’m not taking a class in something, anything, sewing, running, improv, painting, moon-waling, anusara yoga, table dancing (not true, Mom, not true), writing and the list goes on, I generally feel like something is missing in my day-to-day.

I love learning new things, and in this sense I am proudly a dilettante. But, I spend a good portion of every class I take being a beginner…and beginning always sucks. Beginning means being self-conscious most of the time, afraid that I will be doomed to re-live some long ago playground horror. Will the woman standing next to me in Zumba pants me?

Probably not,

But the fear is still there.

As scary as it is, being a beginner is really important, because it’s in those first few classes/lessons/jaunts (or in the case of me and yoga—years) that our minds are rife to learn all the little nuance-y things that make up a skill set. It is in the beginning that my eyes turn to my instructor all big and scared and doe-eyed in search of help and maybe a little reassurance that one day I will not suck at whatever I am doing. And being a beginner is great because you have carte blanche to really fuddle things up, and still get an encouraging pat on the back.

Once that phase is over, you can bet that my generational ADD sets in; I stop paying all that much attention, and head into the task at hand with a cocky “I’ve got this.” I have nothing against cocky, cocky can be fun, and sometimes well deserved, but it takes a lot more effort to progress to a better level at this point, and so perhaps this is why I’m constantly beginning at something.

I am, currently, a beginner long-distance runner. I go to every running session I can, I stare at the pro marathoners with a longing that is probably a bit creepy. I don’t want their bodies, or fancy running clothes, I want their long strides and ability to be able to hold a conversation after mile one. I listen for running advice and find myself correcting my stride mid run, and remembering to re-fuel after mile five because that’s what my coaches told me to do. I take this all very, very seriously. Too seriously. I look forward to the day I feel like “I’ve got this,” but I need to be where I am first, huffing and puffing, and looking to escape after mile four. But that’s the beauty of it, everyone is still so excited that I finished my long runs. You can bet those pro-marathoners aren’t getting quite the parade of accolades at the end of their six/seven/eight miles runs.

Being a beginner is scary, but it’s also a really wonderful place to be.

Are you a beginner in anything? What’s your newest addition?

Breakfast


Raisin bran with banana

Lunch


Shakshukah (and salad that I forgot to photograph)

Dinner

Baked tofu with rice noodles and bok choy. I cooked the lot of them in mushroom broth and teriyaki sauce and ditched the oil.

Exercise: 60-minute yoga class, 60-minute spinning