Today I took my 10-year old daughter for iceskating lessons. She can manage being on the ice somewhat but I so desire for her to be graceful and fearless on the ice one day. I decided a few days ago that I needed to get her out there and get her to learn something new. As I watched her enter the rink to join up with the other small children (even as young as four!), I saw three women leaving the rink. They appeared to be mothers in their 40s and 50s and I thought to myself how wonderful it would be for me to put on skates and go out there with my daughter, learning as well alongside her.
I’ve never ice-skated in my life (don’t even talk to me about skiing).
I both admired and envied the women leaving the rink today because they were so brave. They went out there among the children without a care in the world, never putting much thought (I assume) if they embarrassed themselves if they fell down or struggled to maintain their balance on the ice, looking even silly in the process. At that moment I wished that I was that bold to don some skates and bust my ass time and time again on the ice (embarrassing my daughter in the process no doubt). But I would be too self-conscious about it, impeding the learning process. I would care too much who would see me or what child would point and snicker at me. Negative thoughts like, “I’m too old to learn how to skate” intruded my mind.
It’s all silly of course. We’re never too old to learn a new skill like skating, archery, dancing, or to pick up a musical instrument like the piano or guitar. It does get harder for us to learn new things as we get older. It’s just how we’re wired I guess. That fact shouldn’t get in the way of us trying to learn however. It seems that there are two issues here. The perception of our ability or inability to learn something new as we get older. The other is our fear of how others perceive us in striving to learn these new skills. For me, it’s more the latter than the former. Why should I care what others think? I’m a very confident and secure individual. However, just the thought of putting on skates and failing before so many throws all that confidence out the window. I’m fearless in so many things but learning something new in the presence of others is nerve-wracking for me. And these instructors are very young teenage girls that can skate literally circles around me!
Maybe I’ll take one-on-one lessons when the place is empty and I’ll be fine. But that’s not going to happen in this very busy ice rink. I’ll have to buckle down and deal with it. I would like to ice-skate in Central Park or at Rockefeller Center under the massive Christmas tree with my daughter one day. I would like to be as graceful and skillful as she’ll be. I can visualize it. But it won’t happen until I let go of the fear.
Am I alone in this? Have you tried to learn something new only to be afraid to fail in front of others? I would love to know if I’m alone in this. Please comment below!