Push outside your comfort zone.
See new things, eat new things, learn new things.
This is my mantra lately, and PURSUE is my word. When I look back on my reflections in January about the kind of year I wanted to have, I wrote about wanting to be proactive and have a year of choices rather than circumstances. The word PURSUE is not in there, but its spirit is. PURSUE has been running through my mind all summer and now feels deeply rooted this fall.
All this thought about pursuing has also had me focused on learning new things. I’ve had this post as a draft in my Google docs for a couple of months. I knew I wanted to write about learning new things, the energy it gives me and what a profound impact it can have on other parts of my life, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say or how to say it. I knew something was there swirling around, and I think I’m ready to start capturing it here.
I signed up for Mondo Beyondo this fall. I’ve been wanting to take this class for a couple of years. Why haven’t I signed up yet? I was scared. A class about dreaming big was too terrifying for me to take because what if I dream big, I put my dreams out there and I fail? There is so much vulnerability in putting it out there and in trusting yourself and the Universe to make it happen. I saw an email about a discount to sign up for class (I love a good deal!), and I decided to give myself the class for my birthday this year. It has been a wonderful decision.
Suddenly, having signed up for a class for dreamers, I thought I better not show up empty handed and unprepared. I better get myself into gear, I thought. I better start doing some dreaming and pursuing before class starts so I can get the most out of it and push myself farther than I can on my own. So, I stopped putting off signing up for culinary classes. I had called before about registering, and no one ever called me back. I thought it was a sign. I already had too much going on in my life. Do I really need to take on more?
After I signed up for Mondo Beyondo though, something shifted. Just the leap of registering for Mondo Beyondo made me feel more bold and so I contacted the school again and met with the program director and bought myself a chef’s coat and a knife kit and started a prep manual for recipes. I showed up, as terrified as I was, and I’m pursuing this dream. I don’t know where it will lead or what the outcome will be. In Mondo Beyond speak, that’s part of what I’m surrendering to the Universe. I’m doing what I can to pursue, and I’m trusting that some things are out of my control and I can’t do everything alone. I’m trusting my heart, myself and that I know what to do. I’m choosing to believe that I can try something new. I’m daring to say it out loud. I’m PURSUING. I’m learning something new.
Learning new things is a leap of faith - faith in myself and my capabilities. Faith that even if I fail, I will learn something valuable. It is scary and terrifying and overwhelming, and at some points, it makes me think “What was I thinking??” Why did I think this would be a good idea? It sure would have been a lot easier to just stay home and keep going about my life.
Although learning new things conjures up all sorts of fear in me, my fear of regretting not trying is greater. When I was a little girl, I took swim lessons. Even after years of swim lessons, I am still very anxious and uncomfortable in water over my head. Every week, at the end of class, we had the chance to jump off the diving board. Our teacher was in the water below to catch us or help us if we needed it. Every week, I’d tell my mom, “I’m going to do it next week.” I really wanted to jump off that diving board. Everyone else in class did it, but I just couldn’t make myself take the leap. A couple of times, I even walked to the end of the diving board and looked down at the water. I always turned around though, and said, “I’ll do it next week.” As an adult, I don’t want to put off to next week something that I want to do. I don’t want to have the regret of not pursuing something that I know deep down I want to do.
There is a lot of power in learning new things and pursuing. I know this is true because each morning after class, I feel energy surging through my body. I’m physically exhausted from the busy schedule, but I feel more alive and excited. I have more energy. I can feel my emotions so closely beneath the surface as though pursuing something so exciting is allowing me to let go of past regrets or doubts. I feel more adventurous. I dream bigger and have more confidence that my dreams will come true.
When I was in graduate school, I signed up for acting classes. I love, love, love acting. I loved performing and pushing myself so far outside my comfort zone. I loved it after I did it. Before every class, I’d practically make myself sick with fear. Looking back on that experience, I think of how brave I was. I even auditioned and was cast in a local play. I mean who was that girl? It makes me feel so much braver looking forward.
Learning new things creates momentum and forward motion. It creates positive energy that starts rolling forward and growing courage in other parts of my life. In more Mondo Beyondo vocabulary, it helps me flex my courage muscles. As someone who likes to be good at things, daring to try something I don’t know how to do gives me the confidence and courageousness to pursue even bigger things. Having started with no skills and now being confident skiing through the trees is an accomplishment I couldn’t even envision four years ago. I worked hard, I showed up and practiced wholeheartedly, I got up when I fell, I pursued and I accomplished what I set out to do. Knowing that gives me great trust in myself, my capabilities and my intuition.
The other night in class, unable to let go of so much control and ever the perfectionist, I was asking my instructor for some more pointers and tips. He told me not to worry, that I already know this stuff. And I said to him, a little exasperated, “But I want to do well. I want to get an A!” And he laughed and said, “you’re talented,” and (this part I heard) “you just need to trust yourself.”