Being okay with being a beginner

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I recently downloaded a parenting app, typed in one of my kiddo’s information, and on the completion screen, it said, “You have 528 weeks left. Don’t miss it.” Wow, there’s nothing like a hard number thrown in your face daily to remind you of the importance of the present moment! If you’re like me, I sometimes want to zoom through the present moments. Or, life’s moments seem to zoom by me and somehow I miss them. Maybe it was because my nose was pointed at my work, my eyes were focused too long on creating a future, or dwelling too much on the past. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mama who thinks, “How did my toddler just turn into a big boy overnight?”

One night, I was lounging next to my oldest son on our bed. My husband was out of town (yes, I’m that lucky that my teenager takes the initiative to hang out with his mama). As he was filling me in on his life, telling me about his new job, and his workout goals, I was listening to a boy becoming a man. Whoosh! That was the sound of years flying by.

Time carries on with or without us. Seasons come and go. We are happy to see some seasons go, others bring about a sense of loss. And yet, this should be of no surprise. Time has always been in forward motion. We are the ones that get stuck.

As one season is about to end and the next one comes upon us, it makes me think about how we deal with change; how we handle the transitions. Obviously, some shifts and changes are much harder than others. I’m not talking about those at this moment. I’m focusing on new seasons that inevitably come with each year. With each new season, you and I have to face the reality that we have decisions to make,  challenges to take on, and skills to acquire. There are always beautiful things about new seasons, literally and figuratively, but we often miss those things because of the fear of the new and unknown that comes with changing seasons. We hate feeling like beginners. We get nervous when we don’t know how.  Anxiety keeps us up at night when our next steps aren’t clear, or we don’t have all of the answers.

Maybe you’re experiencing this while contemplating your baby starting school this year, no more kids at home during the day. What will life look like for you? Maybe you feel these things as your youngest heads off to college, and you’re moving into the “empty nest” phase. Perhaps you just had a baby, and this is yet another new beginning. My husband and I are facing a new season as both of our parents are experiencing health issues. I don’t feel ready. There’s so much I don’t know about this stage of life. The questions, the unknowns, the new role of being the help to our parents; we’re beginners at this.

We come into this world as beginners, and we will die as beginners with some experiences. Why do we think that at some point in our lives, we should no longer feel like a beginner? Kids expect to be beginners. If we’re breaking it down, they come into the world knowing NOTHING except, I’m hungry, super uncomfortable, and I need something. You know, sometimes that’s all I feel like I know in certain situations too. I’m super uncomfortable, I need something, and I don’t know how to get it or what to do.

At what point did we come to the conclusion that being a beginner is a bad thing? I’ve watched my kids try hard new things, and at a certain age, they define failure. One of my kids, in particular, has defined failure as “an experience letting me know I am not good enough to ever do that again.” It breaks this mama’s heart. That definition leads him to a place that causes him to be afraid to begin, try new things, and decide before he’s even started whether or not he’s capable. I don’t think he’s alone. I think we do it too. We have a running scorecard of what we think this new season will require, and all we can see is what we currently lack.

We love the idea of becoming great at things, as long as we don’t have to be a beginner. We even welcome the idea of fresh starts, new beginnings, and next steps. We say “Happy New Year!” But, while we want (and are built for) always learning and beginning new seasons, and while this world is designed with time passing, we still don’t like being new.

AUGUST CHANGE CHALLENGE:

What would happen if we could permit ourselves to be new, to be a beginner? No shame in not knowing, no discouragement in mistakes. Just owning another opportunity for learning. Let yourself be a beginner.

about the author…Jamie, the wife of her high school sweetheart and mom of 4 boys, has been in the fitness industry for 18 years. “Fuel the body, mobilize the soul” is her mission. Connect with Jamie on Facebook www.facebook.com/jamiebeeson1 or online at bit.ly/JamieBeeson

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s August 2018 issue.
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