Here’s a thing that’s been on my mind lately.
It seems like, as we get older, we stop allowing ourselves to explore new things. I hear a lot of “I’m too old for that” or “What’s the point at my age?” or “But Megan, my hip replacement is next week.”
I attended a local blogger event last weekend, and even caught myself having those thoughts. While I’ve been a writer for years, I’ve never really dived into the local blogging scene, and I don’t have any desire to be an influencer. Those women speak a different language than I do, they have different strategies and goals, and the morning of the event, I started having some anxiety. Most of my thoughts were centered around the fact that I am not a “known” local blogger, and when I walked in the room, people would be like, “Who is that and why is she here?”
Ok first off, here’s the thing:
No one is thinking that.
Seriously. No one cares about you nearly as much as you think they do. I know that sounds harsh. Haha. (I TOTALLY CARE ABOUT YOU. YOU IS KIND. YOU IS IMPORTANT. YOU IS ENOUGH.) But when it comes to that voice in your head that tells you everyone is inspecting you—from the outfit you chose to wear to the food you’re eating to whatever it is you’ve decided to do with your life—and waiting for you to screw up, that voice is wrong. No one is doing that. Everyone you meet is having the same thoughts. We’re all worried about giving a bad first impression. We all generally want to be liked and accepted and included. We’re all a little afraid of being rejected.
If you can remember that, it helps. You walk into the room and you smile and you make eye contact and you say hi. I swear, people will be grateful that you did. (I read something once that said we should pretend that everyone we meet has a sign on their forehead that says, “Make me feel important.” Guys. It’s the best advice ever. Try it some time.)
I feel like part of this reluctance to put ourselves in new situations stems from the idea that as we get older, we’re supposed to know what we’re doing at all times, and if we try something we’ve never tried before, we have to keep up that appearance. Like, yes, this may be the very first aerial yoga class I’ve ever tried in my life but before I go I need to know exactly how it’s done so I don’t look stupid. Or man, swing dancing looks like a blast but I don’t know how so I can’t even go to the intro super newbie beginner class for people who’ve never had rhythm because what if they judge me?
Or I want to write a book but first I need to make sure it will be the most successful book ever because I’m an adult and I should be good at everything by now.
Repeat after me: It is okay to be a beginner at any stage of your life and at any point in your career. There’s no age limit on adventure. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to not know, or be wrong, about something. It’s okay if someone else knows more than you about a thing.
Because again- no one is sitting there waiting for you to screw up. No one cares. (BUT YOU IS GOOD AND WORTHY OF LOVE, I PROMISE.)
True confidence is just being sure enough of yourself that you aren’t afraid to admit you don’t know everything. Sometimes that is really hard to admit. Even if we know it, we’re afraid for other people to know it. (Spoiler alert: none of us know what we’re doing, and we’re all afraid you’re going to notice at some point.)
Life is short, you guys. Why limit the number of new experiences you’re allowed to have simply because you’ve decided you’re not allowed to be a beginner in your 30s or 40s or 70s? Go do the thing. Take that class. Write that book. Reach out to that person. Make a fool of yourself and laugh and try again.
Wouldn’t it be amaaaaaaaazing if we all inspired even just one other person to be brave and try the thing they’ve always wanted to try but were afraid they couldn’t?