Beginnings can be great: new house, new awesome job, a new love – but BEING a beginner often feels like an insecure and challenging place to be.
Not only is there the not knowing, which is uncomfortable, but being a beginner calls up feelings you may have had in the past of being a beginner, which is often followed with reminders of times when we’ve failed.
This is the hard part about being a beginner at anything: if you’re learning you’re probably failing at times and sometimes you may have to make a lot of mistakes before you figure it out.
I really think one of the biggest demons that I’ve faced in beginning something new was video editing. I decided to take a class on video editing because I wanted to start producing my own videos (important side note: I knew nothing about editing when I took the class). I didn’t even know what I liked in videos, stylistically – I was such a babe in the woods.
I showed up to the first class and talked about the videos I wanted to make along with the other students. I even had a feeling within the first few minutes of class that I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to make with video than most of the students. I was feeling very accomplished and on top of things until we started rolling with the actual editing part of the class.
Once we were editing I realized that everyone in the class had some or a lot of experience with video- maybe they had taken a class before or they had edited in other programs. One guy hadn’t edited, but he was a total computer guy and really young. He picked up on everything though osmosis or something, while I sat there realizing I was THE ONE who didn’t know what the hell I was doing. As the teacher talked us through various aspects of the learning Final Cut Pro I sat there with my head in my hands thinking, “Give up now. This makes no sense. Why are you trying to do this?” Negative thoughts flooded me.
It took me back to a place where I existed as a child, in public school, with an undiagnosed learning disability and very little support from my struggling, single-parent mom. I felt the way I did then- trying to keep up and feeling myself failing. I always had a hard time in school, nothing really changed for me until I got to college and was able to take classes I liked, as well as finding ways to overcome my academic shortcomings. Every teacher I had said, “She’s so bright, why doesn’t she apply herself?”
I was thinking all of these thoughts at lightening speed in this Final Cut class- coupled with thinking about how distracted I was from learning in the moment because of my own negative internal dialog. I felt like crying, but then I thought, “this is only as hard as I let it be on me. I’m going to work as hard as I can until it makes sense.”
I struggled through the rest of the video editing classes: sometimes asking other students for help, sometimes taking feverish notes with a giant question mark over my head and always asking questions of the teacher- before, during and after class. When the course was over I knew I didn’t have enough information to work on videos by myself and that I’d start losing what little information I’d gathered in no time. I needed to apply my knowledge, so I hired my teacher to come to my house and work with me one on one.
The easiest thing for me to do that first day of class, when I practically had a panic attack about being the beginner-ist one in the room, would have been to walk out. It would have been easy for me to give up after the class was over and say, “I didn’t learn anything. Too technical. Not my thing.” But I knew that that would be utterly inauthentic.
I wanted this. I wanted to make my own videos AND I wanted to take down some old demons at the same time.
This is what is so hard about being a beginner, most of us have years worth of beginnings to refer back to, but normally we don’t seem to remember very many of our beginner successes and the failures stand out like sore thumbs.
Over the years I edited more and more videos and found out that not only am I halfway OK at making them, but that I even enjoy making them. I thought I hated it for about the first 6 months, but what I hated was my fear of not knowing. What I was afraid of was being a beginner: who must make mistakes and learn from them to get decent enough to become intermediate and maybe someday have some form of mastery over the medium.
In the beginning my Mantra was: “This is impossible and I’m not good at it, but I’m doing it anyway.” I’m not sure exactly why that worked, but it did.
Nowadays I spend tons of time video editing each week for both our blog and for our e-course. I no longer believe that I’m bad at editing video and I no longer believe it’s impossible. Now my Mantra is: “I’m the Beatles.”
If you know about the Beatles, pre-fame they worked every day in hole in the wall bars, for next to nothing. They had a lot of time to figure out their style and to tighten up their sound before they became the beloved Fab-Four. This is how I view what I’m doing with editing, being on camera, “videography”, “directing”, sound and every part of videos that I produce. I’m tightening up my video skills all the time, learning and believing that I can do this. I made it over the beginning-est of the beginner humps and took down some demons while I was at it.
When we’re beginning, moving forward in spite of doubt is required, because the alternative is to give up and that’s the only time you stop learning – staying stuck forever as a beginner. Perspective is everything when beginning something new, if you can try and remember:
“The expert at anything was once a beginner.” ~ Helen Hayes
I’m actually going through a beginning stage of sorts right now, and have been dealing with all the frustration, discouragement and doubt that comes along with it.
I’ve recently transitioned my business model into something so different than what I had been doing in the past, that I’ve had to basically start from scratch in terms of defining what I do and finding the people that are going to be interested in it.
I went from a pretty good and steady income to starting again at zero in building up my clients and figuring out how best to make some moola from what it is I love to do- and it’s really scary. Sometimes paralyzingly so. To be a beginner again, right here? Right now?
And like Jen said, despite all the evidence I have in the past of businesses I’ve created that have been successful and even allowed me to quit my day job and let me get to this point in the first place, it’s the doubts that are often at the forefront of my mind- “Should I be doing this? Did I make the right decision? I can’t do this. This is too far out of my comfort zone. Should I just go back to what I know, eventho it wasn’t making me happy, instead of starting something brand new?”
And the only thing that helps me keep moving and trying, to keep beginning again and again, is a commitment to creating the life I want for myself, the life I can see in my mind for myself, the life I yearn for and know is possible.
Call it passion, call it idealism, call it far-fetched and impractical- but the thing that propels me toward the end goal in all these initial, fuzzy, beginning stages, is simply remembering what’s possible.
When discouragement, frustration and fear come a’knockin at my mind’s door, I tend to let them in, I gossip with them a bit and start thinking a bunch of half-truths about myself- I allow myself to feel down, to cry out of frustration, to feel like giving up…
And then I think about what I’d be giving up- that vision of my future life as an author and speaker and someone offering real value to the world- and I realize how important it all is to me, how true it all feels for me, how possible it is for me.
And then suddenly, the only option I have is to keep going. To wake up and try again the next day, and the next day and the next. To focus on the next small step it will take to get me closer to those big dreams. Because the only thing that would make those big dreams impossible to accomplish, would be to quit, or worse yet, not get started at all.
Getting clear on your vision and why you are beginning this new stage, why you want to take on this new challenge and what it will mean for your life and happiness- that clarity is what will help propel you forward through the inevitable failures, frustrations and trials.
Get clear, remember what’s possible and get started!