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May 22, 2023

Challenges We All Face When Starting A New Hobby

Jimmy Pritchard

Challenges We All Face When Starting A New Hobby

Hobbies make up a critical component of our lives. They provide a release from our daily stressors, fuel our creative processes, and serve as the catalyst that drives self-fulfillment and joy. If we’re lucky, we can find a community of like-minded individuals and share memorable experiences through the camaraderie we build with others simply by doing something we love. 

While most of us deeply cherish the hobbies we’ve found, finding and starting something new can be extremely difficult. 

More often than not when we start a new hobby, we come in as complete novices, possessing little to no skill in said activity.  This is normal of course, but our ego doesn’t care because, no matter what, it’s uncomfortable and eye-opening.

Our idea of who we thought we were gets thrashed, causing us to instantaneously fall prey to the comparison trap, measuring ourselves against those who have been practicing or training for months or years.

The voice in our head tries to talk us out of starting, making up excuses like “I don’t have enough time,” “I’ll embarrass myself,” or maybe “It’s just too expensive.”

It is exactly at that point where one must look past their natural inhibitions to accept the fact that skill development is a long-term process, and it’s ok to struggle.  You will get better at this thing, just like everybody else who started, struggled, and became better over time.  All you have to do is start.

[Rise And Grind: The Beauty Of Morning Time]

Starting Something New

Beginning a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey makes an excellent demonstration of this struggle.  It takes courage to walk through the academy doors and inquire about getting started.

It can be extremely intimidating. Right away, you put on a thick, heavy kimono, wonder if you’re supposed to be bowing to others, and attempt to tie your belt without feeling like an imbecile.  You find yourself sweating profusely while doing your best to mirror the endless awkward movements called “shrimping” and “Upas,” you’re trying to count to ten in Portuguese, and at some point, you find yourself fighting off another sweaty-exhausted human being who is trying to choke you.

You typically leave your first day in a bit of shock at how difficult it was to move, how intimidating things felt, and how far out of your comfort zone you truly were.  You can’t believe that the 115-pound 16-year-old could hold you down at will with a smile, and so your ego gets shattered, deflating like a balloon poked by a needle.

Showing up to do it all again the next day with an understanding of how little skill you possess seems scarier than adventuring into the unknown like you did on your first day — when you were blissfully unaware of how difficult BJJ is.

It’s at this exact moment that many people decide to quit.  They’d rather retreat back to the comfortable predictability that is their day-to-day life with no threat of feeling inadequate or less than.  This is a major mistake; this is where personal growth goes to die.  Growth begins where comfort ends.

While it may not seem like it, this is how BJJ starts for everyone!  We all feel a bit lost; we can’t fathom rolling for 5 minutes with somebody else, we can’t figure out how to move our hips properly for an arm bar — we can hardly even tie our belt — and guess what?  That’s all okay.

It’s imperative to put aside fears of judgment, fears of inadequacy, and fears of failure.  You’re not expected to be great at anything right away, you’re there to learn, grow, and have fun along the way.

Those who have been training for a long time remember what it’s like to be new at something; they’re here to help you.  The only person standing in the way of you pursuing the new hobby is yourself.

Although BJJ presents its own unique set of challenges when first getting started, these things reign true for every hobby, Muay Thai included.  Nobody starts as a scratch golfer; it takes hours of hitting balls on the range and rounds of slicing shots right or left before things come together.  Everybody falls down when they first learn to ski, it takes practice to make simple turn which eventually one day leads to shredding the expert double black runs.  Everything is a process, once you understand this and give in things become doable.

Perhaps one of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received relating to this topic was from a friend of mine when discussing college.  I had just finished my undergraduate degree and wasn’t sure if I was ready to begin my master’s program quite yet, so I kept feeding myself the same excuses I mentioned above like, “It’s so expensive” or “What if I don’t like it?” And worse — “I’ll reevaluate next semester.”

He told me that by the time next semester comes around, I could have already been a semester into the program and that if I don’t do it now, then I’ll probably just say the same thing to myself next time around, or never start at all.  It sounds simple, but he was right.

Several of my peers had the same thought process as I did initially; some never pursued their degree, and others tried but life got in the way.  What I took away from that experience was that tomorrow is not a given.  If you or I have the opportunity to pursue something new, don’t wait, because you may not get the opportunity to do it again.

I would rather try something and fail than live with regret the rest of my life knowing that I never gave that it a shot.  No matter if it’s BJJ, Muay Thai, skiing, golfing, writing, painting, you name it — put your fears aside and give it a try.

You’ll thank yourself later and you never know, you may be standing in front of a room full of newbies one day telling them about your first day doing that very activity and how things will get better.

Get out there, try new things, and live life to the fullest!


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