How to overcome the fear of trying something new

Credit: Dive by Madame Lolina

Trying something new can be scary, and sometimes, there’s nothing that anyone can say or do to make those feelings go away.

I have no magic answer that will make all those fears and insecurities go away, but only one piece of advice that has worked incredibly well for me: just jump right in.

Imagine taking your first dive into a cold, icy pool when you’re shivering from the chill morning air. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be in my warm bed, snuggled up in my blanket, instead of having to face that container of water that keeps lapping at my toes as I wince with dread. Though I love swimming, I absolutely hate that first contact between my body and the water. Every time. So I do what I normally do: tell myself that it’s going to be okay, close my eyes, dive right in, and keep on swimming until I’ve covered a whole lap without stopping. And when I emerge, it’s as though my fears had never existed in the first place, and I was in the flow of things – quite literally. If I had let my feelings about taking that first leap overpower my love for swimming, then I’d forever be on dry land.

Don’t just go back to bed.
Diving right in is also the best way to learn if this new thing is something you’ll like (even if you’re rubbish at it at first). When an idea is just in our heads, we glorify it a little. We imagine how great something is, only to be disappointed when what we churn out is not that great (which almost always happens when you’re a beginner – we all suck in the beginning, there’s no getting around it). The sooner you get over this thought of wanting to be the best at what you do right off the bat, and ignore damaging ones that tell you that if you’re not good at it then you must not be talented in it, the better. That’s just your brain craving to crawl back to bed, where it’s warm, familiar and safe.

The beautiful thing about doing, is that you also learn something new about yourself along the way. You’ll also get better at what you’re doing. But only, and only if, you like it enough to plod through the hard, difficult stuff, and wade through the feelings of inadequacy that inevitably follows an apprentice. The utter anguish of having to re-do something because if you don’t – even though no one would notice it but you – you can’t live with the thought that you could have done better.

So you do.

You unpick those stitches, and do it all over again.
You start with a new sheet of paper.
You rework that lump of clay.

You do it because your love of the unknown is stronger than the shackles that keep you in place, right where you are.

Add in a bit of time, patience, and some good old fashioned elbow grease, and you’ll soon realise that whatever you’re doing is no longer new.

It’s now a part of you.

The water may be icy cold wherever you are, but there’s no better time to dive right in.

In the distance

It’s been eight weeks since the lockdown.

I’ve filled most of it through teaching online, cooking, gardening, reading, watching (Netflix and animation shorts, anyone?) and learning online (currently, I’m taking Patricio Betteo’s course on Digital Painting in Photoshop on Domestika), and not to mention copious sessions of video chats, texts and audio calls with loved ones. Hearing the soothing voice of the familiar is reassuring, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I yearn so much to be able to be near them again.

I watched animation director and game designer’s Florian Grolig’s In the Distance very early on when the lockdown began, and found many parallels between his depiction of war and of the current situation with the virus at large. With a static, zoomed out frame throughout, we see how a character (and his pet rooster) navigate the uncertainties that loom closer. With an ending that was open for interpretation, I found the short to be an apt metaphor for the times that we now find ourselves in.

Also, if you’re a fan of animated shorts, Pictoplasma has announced that they’re running the annual Pictoplasma conference entirely online this year from 18-19 September 2020, completely free (although donations are most welcome!) I’ve been to the conference twice, and it’s absolutely one of my favorite conferences ever; and I’m sure this year will be no different.

How are you?

It’s the third week of enforced movement restriction in my country, and I’m sitting at home alone, working on my laptop. From the outside in, things may look the same, because it’s a routine that I go through everyday. But it isn’t, not anymore.

It’s like watching a horror movie slowly unraveling itself in real time. Thousands are getting sick, and it’s spreading like wildfire. Country and borders are on lockdowns (or movement restrictions, like mine), with extensive travel restrictions in place. Hospitals and health care professionals are working in overdrive to combat the first global pandemic of its kind.

What my everyday lunch looks like: minestrone soup, bread and cheese

If you’re scared or anxious, you’re not alone. I am too.

I remember this time last month, when the situation wasn’t as worrying yet; when it hadn’t yet tipped into a situation where alarm bells would be rung. People still went on their lives as usual, with the exception of increased hand washing/sanitising, interspersed with news of how pharmacies were running low on stock of face masks and hand sanitisers (and toilet paper). And now? I have no words to describe how surreal it all is.

The uncertainty of what’s happening, or what going to happen is unsettling. I’m physically separated from a loved one, because we both want to do the right, responsible thing. Sucking it up doesn’t mean the situation doesn’t suck – it still does, but it’s important to us that we do the things we can. And so here we are.

I’m fortunate to be able to work from home, but I know so many others aren’t. Businesses are experiencing a slow trickle, and some have come to a grinding halt. Everyone’s scared because we don’t know what the future will look like when the world finds its way back to a new normal. Plus, right now with social distancing being our best bet to flatten the curve, it can get a little lonely. Aside from working, here’s a list of things I’ve done so far that’s helped me feel a little less hopeless:

  1. Spending time with my dog, Jojo. Fur-aphy is real and a thing.
  2. Cooking. I’ve been cooking in batches, eating light, and oh, making lots of chocolate granola
  3. Gardening. I’m very lucky to have a garden; it’s where I tend to my edible plants. (So I can eat them later, ha!)
  4. Pinterest. Looking at pretty things makes me feel that things are normal… at least for a few minutes, even if I know it’s not, and won’t be for a while.
  5. Exercising. The gym is closed, and with it comes experimenting with new workouts using only my bodyweight (I miss lifting weights).
  6. Texting, calls and video calls with loved ones. Reaching out and talking to people, family and friends helps me feel connected in a time where being physically disconnected is painful and real.

But enough about me.

What about you?

How have you been? How have you been coping? How is it where you are, and what’s your form of self-care? Share stories, updates, and your ups and downs with me, and feel free to vent if you’d like. I’m all ears (and I read every comment and email).

Your digital pen-pal,

Amy

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