Learn Like No-one's Watching
One of my friends was getting rid of her bicycle and offered it to me.
This wasn’t a completely random gift: I’ve been thinking about cycling again (after around 30 years!) as I have friends that I like to visit who are a bit too far away to walk but it always feels wrong to drive. A cycle ride would be perfect.
However. It has been 30 years.
The first time I got on it I rode it from the back of my garage to the front. With the door closed. I was so anxious about the idea of anyone seeing me.
I’ve made it outside twice now, riding once down the path behind my house and back and the second time up the path and back. Each time my ride was curtailed.
Why? Because I was nervous? No. Because I was too unfit? No. (well just a little!)
Because I was worried about what people watching me would think. I’d ridden past them in one direction and didn’t want them to see me riding back the other way so quickly.
I thought I’d got to a stage in my life when I didn’t care what others thought of me. But apparently not.
There is something about learning something new as an adult,or resurrecting a dormant skill that makes us feel particularly vulnerable. As a child we are learning new things all the time. We expect it to take time, to be shaky at first.
As an adult our expectations of ourselves can be unrealistic when learning, and our desire to reach our goal rather than enjoy the journey to get there can make us harsh judges of our attempts.
In fact it’s possible that we are projecting this self-judging behaviour onto others. We are assuming that passers by are thinking those thoughts that we have in our own heads. When in reality they are probably not even noticing us at all.
So here’s to learning as if no one is watching, to enjoying the journey, and remembering that our harshest critic is the one inside, and perhaps it’s time to ignore that inner voice and be proud that we’re choosing to learn something new.