You Only Get To Be A Beginner Once

There was a time in my life when I was enrolled in one of those 3-month programming schools. Right before I dropped out to take a full-time design job with Amazon, Jared Tame, my mentor at Bloc, shared this golden nugget with me:

“You only get to be a beginner once.”

I’ve thought quite a lot about what he’s said since then, and even more so in learning how to ski.

Lately I’ve been quite frustrated with myself. Wanting to see impossible gains in a short period of time is like wanting to strike it rich with a game of roulette. It’s just not going to happen. I don’t say that in a self-defeating way…mostly a realistic way. Having a really supportive boyfriend who doesn’t leave my side on the hill is helpful. So is the reassurance from my other friends who say it takes awhile to get a hang of things. I’ve looked in to some private instruction, but the snow conditions aren’t quite right this weekend and my legs are just not having it. Nonetheless, the instructor is lined up. The equipment is primed and ready to go. My season pass is ready to be used. All I need is a pair of functioning legs!

Cue doge, who will explain everything to you:

So in addition to my coach warning me that I was overloading my legs, my massage therapist started helping me connect the dots. That two-month old foot cramp has been tugging on some of the deeper muscles in my lower leg and locking up my calf muscles. Those old sprained ligaments are tensing up my lower legs. And for reasons beyond me (as well as my compression socks), my legs feel like LEAD. Like, the type of lead that I generally feel during an intense brick workout. I have less response time. My brain says, “TURN!” and nothing happens…so I dive for the snow. For the record, I think I did that 20+ times on Sunday, which eventually resulted in the bloody mess below when I fell into my ski pole and needed a trip to the ER to get my eyebrow glued back together —

Rest and recovery was never something I did particularly well. My idea of doing nothing is….doing something. If I was over-exerting myself physically, then I’d instead over-exert myself mentally. My method of balance was really just counterbalancing, which in of itself, is just swinging the pendulum from one extreme to another, right? I wish I could take things a bit more zen, but I feel like that’s beyond me. Unfortunately, it’ll be pretty crucial to my longevity in any sort of endeavor. I can’t always fire on all cylinders. I need to know when to push it and when to push back. It’s never been in my personality to take the relaxed approach to any new endeavor. My friend uses the phrase “hard in the paint” to describe the way I do things: “To approach a problem, obstacle, or challenge with supreme confidence of success through a commitment to use all facilities available to one’s self to achieve a goal.”

I see an obstacle, something difficult, something new. I want to figure it out. I want to crack it, understand it, experience it, overcome it. I hate turning away from a problem. The only way out is through. But yeah, I only get to be a beginner once. This is the fun part. This reminds me of all the things that went through my head when I was starting off with swimming, biking, and running. I remember what it was like to get started. I remember how inferior I felt. I remember how much I dreaded going to the pool when people were there. I used to wait for the lanes to clear before getting in. I would go to the pool at absurd hours to avoid swimming with people. I’d go out of my way to run alone when I first started. And don’t even get me started with biking. I’m a bit of a kook I guess.

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior…the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.”

None of this feels natural. I’m feeling meh. I can’t even train until my eyebrow heals over. How frustrating. I have a ton of misdirected energy. I have the energy to go for days but my legs won’t carry me. Time to make friends with epsom salt, a hot tub, and my foam roller. And maybe work on a warm-up routine and mood-setting mental routine for the next time I’m headed to the mountain. And maybe I’ll check in on my races for the year. Or something. Again, misdirected energy.

This whole thing is an exercise in patience…something that I have very little of. Gahhh!

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