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Lessons from Learners
Trying something new feels a lot like the first day of school—your mind is a mix of excitement and anxiety, but you know you’re there for a good reason.
Words by Chantelle Muñoz
Trying something new feels a lot like the first day of school—your mind is a mix of excitement and anxiety, but you know you’re there for a good reason. As a team of skill-seekers and hobbyists, we’ve all tried something new in the past months (coming up with our first The Serious Review newsletter being one of them). So if you’re experiencing some first day blues, here are some lessons we learned to help you push through.
1. Instead of what could’ve been, look to what could be.
Angie, one of our creative directors, describes recently relearning how to ride a bike at 27 as humbling. She shares that one of the biggest challenges was overcoming the internal shame of learning at a later age, riding slowly while neighborhood kids zoomed around her. What kept her motivated, however, was the idea of someday being able to bike around with her dog (inspired by our lead designer Paolo’s many biking trips with his many different pets).
In most of our minds, there’s an unspoken table of skills and the socially acceptable ages to learn them by, completely subjective numbers that often make us feel guilty about each year we’ve let pass. The issue of feeling burdened by the past, however, can be flipped around to present another perspective: that starting now, at whatever age you are, can be less about the years that have gone but more about the years that are yet to come—armed with a shiny, new skill your younger self would definitely be proud of.
💬 Reena on moving out
I had regrets in a sense that I wish I could’ve done this earlier. Completely moving out made me learn how to push myself further, to practice good habits, to make sure everything—from my finances to my time—is in order, and to appreciate my family and true friends more. It’s true what they say that nothing is ever too late. When I look at the view where I live and how much I have grown as a person, I get to reassure myself that despite the challenges, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
2. Trust the process. Trust yourself.
Junior designer Macy started journalling to be better in touch with her emotions and thoughts, but the process of writing was sometimes unsettling. “It takes so much vulnerability to write down events that expose more of my personal nature, “ she says. “It turns your thoughts into something you can see, and it’s made more apparent when you’re writing about things you naturally keep to yourself.”
In just a few months, Macy now credits journalling for helping her be more rational and empathetic, and teaching her to take life a bit less seriously. Looking through her entries gives her a new point of view when it comes to past experiences—challenging times have become fond memories, and a clear hindsight shows her how she could’ve approached some things better. Her journal, she shares, have become proof of how her experiences and emotions have made her a stronger and more confident person.
In the moment, we sometimes don’t understand the significance of having to face difficulty when we can simply (and somewhat deceptively) move on and avoid it altogether. But know that the hard parts are part of the process for a reason, and have faith in yourself that you can surpass or deal with them better, too.
💬 Ella on being a new home cook
I was initially overwhelmed by how much there is to know. It’s like I’m playing intense catch-up from all the things I’ve missed. I tried to be realistic about it, stepping back and allowing myself to suck, be mediocre, or experiment with what works for me. Eventually, I was surprised by how much cooking calmed me and how quickly I picked it up. It’s a good reminder that I should trust myself more!
3. Baby steps are still forward steps.
As one of our soon-to-be first time mothers in the studio, Fel has been consuming an endless amount of information to prepare herself for the big responsibility on her hands (and in her tummy!). The pressure to get it perfectly right makes her obsess over every single detail she comes across. This led to her using up even more time and energy just warming up to an already mentally exhausting task, making it not only less enjoyable but also far less productive.
Over time, she realized that what worked best for her was to just open her mind and let what sticks stick. This made her relationship with learning less stressful, and she gets to happily move forward with her incremental learnings.
While the urge to do things well is never a bad thing, it’s also good practice to recognize when that urge is pulling you back instead of pushing you forward. When this happens, know that it’s okay to take a breath or two, relax your mind, and take small steps the best you can. In the wise, wise words of our favorite forgetful fish: just keep swimming.
You’ll get there.
💬 Denise on revisiting knitting
I get easily bored when I don’t get the result I want. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), there are really no shortcuts, so it’s helped me be patient with myself and enjoy the process for what it is instead of just rushing to get to the end product.
4. Use the learning process to learn something about yourself.
Junior strategist Sara picked up weaving during the pandemic and while the process seems calming, she initially felt disoriented by the meditative focus it took. “There was nothing quick, easy, or instant about weaving so it was quite a challenge,” she says. “I really had to learn to appreciate the slow and silent fulfillment that came with finishing a piece.”
Through the process of weaving, she also learned that she had a tendency to pick instant gratification over long haul fulfillment, something that felt natural to her because she was used to living a fast paced lifestyle. Knowing this, she actively welcomed the change in routine her new hobby gave her: the time to process her thoughts and to be present.
While a new skill is always great, the best part about learning something new is getting to know more about yourself—what you struggle with, what makes you tick, and what you want or need in life. Take advantage of new territories to discover something new about yourself. It makes the journey of learning all the more worth it.
💬 Liana on being a newbie gamer
Gaming required a new skill and mindset altogether: patience, communication, strategy, awareness, and the ability to ignore constant online trolling. I learned that I’m not discouraged by failure. In fact, losing one too many games and getting online hate for it actually motivated me to practice my game and play even more!
💬 Eugene on learning Japanese
Learning something vast as language is intimidating. You don’t know where to start and you need dedication and discipline to practice the craft. In the process, I learned that there’s still a lot of things I can still learn about skills or languages I’m already fluent in. Language evolves as time goes on and it never really ends. I think this applies to everything.
Something we found in common with everyone’s experiences is that learning something new is oftentimes a test of being kind to ourselves. To be patient with our progress, to be forgiving of our shortcomings, to be proud of ourselves for even picking up the challenge in the first place. So the next time you try to learn something new, know that we are so, so proud of you.
We hope you are, too.