Being a beginner in an expert world is scary. It seems that somehow everyone you know can already ski, mountain bike, or surf. It’s like they were born with the skills and never had to experience the awkward, uncoordinated embarrassment of learning. But guess what? They’ve all been there, even the experts.
I remember the first hike I ever went on, totally unfit and put up the front for a few hours of climbing uphill to Pigeon House Mountain. Naturally I placed a huge amount of pressure on myself trying to impress everyone, despite being surrounded by totally patient supportive friends. I pushed and struggled the whole way up, not particularly enjoying or appreciating the experience. It wasn’t until we got to the top they were like “Geez Heather, you’re a gun! We’ve been hoping you would take a break so we could have one too”. I didn’t have to suffer – what an important lesson!
With experience, the nerves you get before a trip will turn to excitement. While you still may not know what to expect, you’ll build the confidence in yourself to know you are capable of handling whatever you are faced with. Everyone is capable really, they just haven’t realised it yet – another very freeing thought for you.
It’s so easy to assume that experience makes a person immune to the challenges of whatever the trip is, but guess what – it doesn’t! An experienced person might be more mentally prepared but they still burn up the hills, feel the cold, and have a heavy pack. They are experiencing the same conditions as you, and they see enough reward in it to keep coming back. This is key to remember, it’s not meant to be easy.
Self doubt is such a natural human emotion. It’s in all of us; the beginners, the professionals and our mentors. Have you ever considered what’s running through other people’s heads? It’s only human to think of yourself first, so the chances are that your adventure partner is probably analysing their own performance, rather than scrutinising yours.
So next time you’re considering something new, and feeling a little timid, please remember you got this. Learning and improving is just as much a part of the journey. Embrace the challenge, allow yourself to reflect, surround yourself with supportive people, and watch your confidence grow as you gain a new skill. Everyone admires effort!