Try Something New…

I just got an email with this in the subject line, courtesy of the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. ‘Try something new in 2017 – with over 48 classes…’

I like trying new things but one thing I’ve learned – you won’t like everything new that you try. People used to give me grief for my constant curiosity. ‘Oh, is this your latest fad?’ They watched me whirl from snowboarding to flute to reiki to tap dancing to writing to sewing to fiddle to Pilates to silk painting… You get the idea.

They took an all too common view – that when you try things, giving up on them is failure. It’s weakness or lack of discipline or simple frivolity. It’s a foolish lack of commitment. It’s defeat.

I have another view on it. Sometimes trying something new will send your life in a wholly unexpected direction. Back in 2001 I had an online chat with a guy called Dan, all about snowboarding. He worked as a seasonnaire – a chalet host in the Alps every winter. To cut a long story short, I got intrigued, took some lessons and jacked in my teaching job to work as a chalet host in Switzerland.

So do I still snowboard? No. God, no. I was a terrible snowboarder. If you can spend a whole season in Verbier and still fall over your feet at the end of it, it’s safe to assume that you’re not one of life’s natural boarders. But do I regret, for a second, trying a snowboard lesson? Of course not! One chatroom conversation led to a lesson, which led to a winter in the snowy mountains. I still smile every time I think of that season. I’ll tell my grandkids the (heavily edited) stories…

Trying new things means:

  • You’re alive and growing
  • You’re experiencing something new
  • You’re pushing yourself out of you comfort zone
  • You’re an honest self-assessor. (Yes – I could go to a snowboarding class from now till the end of time. No, I will never be good at it. Turns out, I just don’t stand up so well on snow.)

Maybe we need to change the narrative. Instead of saying ‘try new things’, we can think about ‘giving ourselves the chance to fall in love’. Like love affairs, some last the course and some get discarded. I gave up on sewing and reiki and tap dancing, for now. But the others? I still write at every chance I get. I’m obsessed with the fiddle and working through the grades. I tried a Pilates class and although the first one nearly killed me, I still go back for more every week. And while I never got the hang of snowboarding, that season in Switzerland means I can make a damn fine boeuf bourguignon and still giggle at the memories of a much more carefree time.

So, try something new in 2017. You might hate it. You might like it, even though you’re cack at it. But, just maybe, you’ll fall head over heels in love – and it’s love that sends us off on a whole new set of adventures.


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