Can you really teach an old dog new tricks?
I have always been one to try new things, meet new people and start new hobbies. But why do some things not only push you out of your comfort zone but also make you start to second guess whether we should be doing it at all?
Ask me to walk into a crowd of people on my own, no problem! Ask me to stand up on a stage and talk to one thousand people, no problem! But ask me to be vulnerable, swallow my humility and overcome my fear; well, then you have a problem!
I wonder if it is specific skills you should be good at, that is the problem. It might be because of where you are from, or your heritage or the past experiences that make you feel this way, it could even be the stigma of it all. Or is it once you hit a certain age, then it is just too hard to teach an old dog new tricks (literally)!
So in my experience over the years, if I am about to embark on something new, e.g. something I have never tried before, let’s say archery (not sure why it just popped in my head, but it did so I am running with it). I am all for it; I am even okay to make an absolute fool of myself in the process (it is what I do best).
But give me a skill that I should know; that is when the fear comes into play. Is it because I am out of practice? Is it because I have never really been very good at it? Or is it because I was never taught properly in the first place? Better still, is it because my children are so good at it that it would be embarrassing to admit that it isn’t one of my strongest fortes?
Today, I conquered one of my fears (no, I have yet to jump out of a plane and be honest, unsure I even want to). I have even patted my own bag and I am now about to toot my own horn! I am also so relieved that I took that first step, even though I wished it would thunder this morning so I wouldn’t have to go. But it didn’t rain. Instead, the morning could not have been any clearer! It was like the universe telling me to get into that pool and start today.
Because of that, and because I did not want to let a friend down, I took that first stroke and now I am glad I did. Sure, I can swim; I can save myself if I need to. Sure, I have spent years in the water and especially in the surf at the beach, but I have wanted to correct my stroke for years!
I have wanted to learn to swim in a pool so that I, too, can do as my mother did before me and spend time in the pool doing lap after lap without feeling awkward. It is weird to think I grew up at the beach, living across from it from a young age.
Still, I had this fear of making a fool of myself, even all these years later! Especially since my go-to swimming style of breath stroke is now too hard to maintain after my knee replacement. So my only choice now is to correct my freestyle stroke so that I can feel more confident in the pool.
I suspect it will take me some time before I feel confident enough to do laps in the pool here at my condo for the entire world to see, but I have made a start! So tomorrow morning, before Singapore wakes up and the sun rises, I will sneak into the pool and practise my newfound love of swimming before my next lesson.
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