“Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent.”

My brain has to resemble a toddler in a toy store today, with a row of  candy to one side of her and every toy imaginable in front. All while trying to remember to walk one foot at a time, not tripping over every step. My hope is this flows neatly for you to read.

I’m restless, and flat. Somedays I wonder if having an addiction to travel is a curse or a blessing. I’ve decided this my vice, my addiction, what I dream about and crave with all my waking hours, addicted to feeling filled up with new sights and voices and lost in cities I can’t navigate, and full of longing for the next gravel road with colorful buildings to walk down, and wonder of how the natives around me live and love and think.

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.”
— Claude Monet

I used to feel this way about becoming a Social Worker. For four years, I would sit in class and collapse a little more each hour that passed, aching to get out there and practice what I believed so heavily in, combating the social injustices in our country. And then I got a taste of what it felt like to be a Social Worker, working at a distinguished agency, one I believe and speak highly of often. And while I truly loved my time there, and the work I was able to be apart of, I can’t imagine myself sitting at the desk we worked at, with my girls sitting beside me as I helped to navigate the steps to ending their homelessness. I felt so experienced in this part of my life, I felt skilled, and didn’t find myself comparing to others often. This passion was an important part of my life, it is what got me through the really challenging parts of growing up, it gave me meaning, purpose. While I can’t see myself doing it at this point in my life, I wouldn’t change following that passion for anything.

While processing recently the certainty I felt about being a  Social Worker, and sharing a conversation with one of my close friends today, I was able to work through a lesson I’ve struggled with for some time. And I wanted to share it with you all, because I think it’s something we can all gain from.

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”
Barbara Sher

Once I graduated college, I was engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions focused around being a beginner or in my mind, not being good enough. I had the world at my feet, and every new step I took was a first, and it all took hard work and patience to start feeling good at these new parts of me.  I slid through college without putting much hard work in. I was always pretty petite so I never worked out. I settled in unhealthy relationships, because I didn’t understand they were unhealthy at the time. I didn’t think I had the skill set in place to know how to best handle not being able to do everything effortlessly the first time I tried. I compared myself to everyone, I felt a great deal of dislike for myself because I didn’t feel smart enough with my degree to find a job I wanted, I wasn’t strong enough to be good at yoga, I wasn’t a mutual enough partner to have a healthy relationship.

Let’s rewind to the first time this became a reality of struggle for me. My best friend was celebrating her engagement to such an incredible man. We were in this big beautiful home, and I was surrounded by 15 successful beautiful inspiring women. An experience I live for these days, being surrounded by women that inspire me. But I spent that weekend shedding secret tears in any hidden corner I could find. I had interviewed for my dream job previously that week and had found out that weekend I didn’t get the job. I was devastated, and felt defeated. I was around all of these women, who were married (or getting married) making great money, with careers, and successful. I was stuck in that mindset that I was so far behind on where I wanted to be/ where I thought I should be. I had a degree, a bad relationship, and no prospect of a future that gave me a feeling of success. I had no hobbies, nothing I felt I was any good at. I was a beginner in every aspect of life, and it was DEFEATING. I was rushing through my journey. At least in college, I was a college student, I was an expert in that. But that chapter had ended and I was starting from scratch.

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These girls lift me, inspire me, guide me, love me unconditionally.

Now everything I explained above was my negative mindset. Let’s re-frame now. I had a college degree, great working experience, beautiful successful friends who had put in the work to be where they were who loved me and were so open to giving me advice on how to be a version of successful, they had started as beginners, from scratch and grown to be the experts I saw them as. I was so hard on myself. Hard was an understatement. I sat on the porch at my best friends bachelorette party and bawled to my mom how worthless I was, and how I wasn’t ever going to amount to what I en-vised myself being.

God. Be gentle on yourself my friends. Please. Somedays I really wish I could rewind and hug my old being and tell myself it is going to be okay and that the journey is unfolding how it’s meant to. Had I gotten that job, I would have never traveled to Thailand, I most likely would have stayed in the relationship that needed to end, and would never had met the man who’s showed me we all deserve to be treated as truly special, and putting in the work needed isn’t hard or an inconvenient. Life would be so incredibly different than it is now, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere in life different than I am right now.

“If you’re feeling frightened about what comes next, don’t be. Embrace the uncertainty. Allow it to lead you places. Be brave as it challenges you to exercise both your heart and your mind as you create your own path toward happiness; don’t waste time with regret. Spin wildly into your next action. Enjoy the present, each moment, as it comes, because you’ll never get another one quite like it. And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart…where your hope lives. You’ll find your way again.”
— Everwood 

I was sharing conversation with a girlfriend who has incredible musical talents, an aspect of my life that I really wish came easy to me. She sent me a piece she recorded recently, and the improvements she’s been making on piano is phenomenal. Her piano part sounded breathtaking, and while complimenting her on it, I could tell she felt the same way I felt when people in my life compliment me on my new found yoga skills. I’m a beginner in yoga, but I show up and give it my all, and have done that for almost two months now, and have transitioned internally away from that beginner feeling. I wish I was stronger, I wish I could do a handstand, and touch my toes to my head, as I’m sure my beautiful friend wishes she could play her favorite songs with no error on the piano. But the fact is, we both show up and work through the hard parts. We both accept that we aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and be at the point we feel is the end goal, I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and do a handstand. But I am going to wake up tomorrow and keep working towards the strength needed to accomplish such a beautiful feat. We both have skills that others long to have at this very moment, and it’s made me realize, there is always going to be someone who is farther ahead, but the only way to get there is to keep walking towards that destination.

Don’t compare, don’t feel jealousy, don’t judge where you are on your journey. Just begin. Anyone can be an expert, seasoned on a skill that matters to them. But to get there, you must begin. You must bask in being a beginner, because being a beginner means you are willing to put in the work needed. It means you give a shit about yourself, your hopes, your dreams.

you want that ceo job? then put the work needed in to build your experience. you want to travel the world? read some useful advice, and buy a plane ticket. want to be treated like you matter, like you are truly special? end that unhealthy relationship and love yourself so much, the next person in your life has no other option than to leave or love you UNCONDITIONALLY. want to flow effortlessly through yoga or be able to squat 250 pounds? show up to that class and work your ass off even when you can’t give another breath.

make healthy choices, put the work in, and dont give up. surround yourself with people that make you better, and PLEASE. don’t compare yourself to others. we all are living and learning and hurting and loving. i promise.

“be kind to yourself. be gentle with your soul. learn to accept yourself and love yourself for all that you already are, and for all that you will be.”

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I took this picture that weekend, posted with the same caption that capture this blog post. It look me almost a year to really understand this lesson, but I wouldn’t change the timing for the lessons I received along the way.

Be patient and gentle with yourself, you’re beautiful. xo. 

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