Why being a newb is the best

I have this place in my head I occasionally escape to when I close my eyes.

Its a flashback to my Costa Rica trip this time last year. It was my first surf lesson, which I took with a company called Frijoles Locos (crazy beans). That day, the tides lined up perfectly with sunset, the beach was nearly empty, and the water was bathtub warm.

Near the end of the lesson, the sun seemed to sit deep in the water, casting the whole beach in a warm orange glow.

As I waited for my last turn, I bobbed up and down as that glow seeped into me. I could practically hear ambient music filling my head perfectly timed to the waves, creating a split moment that seemed to stretch on as long as the horizon.

Then, I started to paddle.

Was it the pristine tropical landscape or the hunky Tico instructor with the inspirational pep talk on what “surfing was really about” that made the evening so beautiful? Well, yeah, that definitely helped.

But you know what also helped? The jolts of dopamine that sparked when I stuck a (very cute) wave and rode it to shore.

Over the next couple weeks, many wipeouts sent burning saltwater up my nose and left my bikini hanging on by the skin of its teeth (sorry about the visual). Without Romeo to help, I nearly trampled pelicans, almost got run over by other surfers, and had a few heart-racing moments when too-big waves tossed me around underwater. But that feeling when I finally collapsed onto the shore, salty, sunburned, and smiling? It was enough to get me up and out of the house at 6 am again the next day.

I found this variation of drive again during my recent (first) solo travel trip. Boarding a plane to Asia by myself was scary and I was momentarily sure I’d forget how to meet people–or worse. Of course, that’s not what happened. It seemed everyone I met were seasoned solo travellers–making me the newbie once again.

At the risk of sounding totally cliche, all this changed my way of thinking (as travel often does). It helped me realize I need to spend more time in “the newb zone”. And I didn’t have to be overseas to do it. In fact, finding ways to be a newb in your regular day-to-day life could be the most beneficial.

“Try new things” certainly isn’t’ unique advice, but sometimes it doesn’t really set in until you feel the purely selfish benefit it provides.

The newb zone

Many of us don’t spend much time in the “newb zone”–I know I don’t. Being new at something is usually hard, thus stressful, scary, and/or embarrassing. Why not just spend all our time doing things we’re already good at?

Well, do you ever get that feeling that you’re just on a merry-go-round, spinning and spinning in the same direction? Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting for the next event, the next task, or the next weekend? “The grind”, they call it.

I think a lot of that chalks up to being too comfortable and not newby enough.

Comfort is fantastic, comfort is needed —but comfort is even more delicious when you mix in some uncomfortable things.

The newb zone could be reached in any number of ways. Maybe you try a new physical activity, go out of your way to spend time with different people, take up a new hobby, or try to learn a new skill. It could be revisiting something you put down long ago.

Before you say you “don’t have time”, how many episodes of Netflix have you watched in the past week? Perhaps you could start with cutting that by one or two.

And why wouldn’t you shoot high when it’s the 21st century and there are things like SkillShare out there for the taking?

Some things I’m trying are to slowly but surely learn the basics of CSS and and up-keeping a blog, and to challenge my cooking skills. This all involves a lot of reading, practice, and hair pulling. Lots and lots of hair pulling.

But when something finally works out? It’s not uncommon for me to literally bust a happy dance. Finding time to temporarily step off my merry-go-round and be rewarded with happy dances is hard to beat.

These aren’t big, take-over-my-life activities. They’re just enough to nudge me into the newb zone and light that curious, creative fire that is a major building block to my sense of joy.

So if you’re feeling stuck, try to get yourself extra stuck–in a new problem. Then try to find your way out. Embrace the newb zone and the newb zone will embrace you.

Reading Inspiration

Here’s what I’ve been reading. I’d love to hear your recommendations too – drop them below!