“We need to talk about what’s next.”
“Can we move beyond the basics?”
While it might sound like we’re ready for all of the advanced stuff (which I’d often debate), I think this is a symptom of a more underlying cause. We’re uncomfortable being called beginners.
Being a beginner has a strange, uncomfortable connotation. There’s almost an undercurrent of inadequacy, as though focusing on building blocks means that we’re not capable of thinking bigger, doing something more complex, or understanding nuance.
Being a beginner is associated with a lot of icons of needing help: Training wheels. Swim floaties. Kindergarten and the ABCs. Step stools. The very icons of beginner-hood seem to negate the idea of being self sufficient and capable. And by default, you can only be classified as a beginner if someone is more advanced than you are, which can make you feel as though someone is always looking back over their shoulder at you, wondering when you’ll catch up.
I think there’s beauty in the basics. In fact, you can point to many reasons why they’re absolutely essential. There’s a simple eloquence that resides in fundamentals and one of which I’ve discovered I’m quite enamored. I enjoy the basics. Teaching them, exploring them, understanding them better, explaining them more clearly. Reframing them in ways that make sense to more people. They’re always useful, always necessary if we’re ever to build upon a strong foundation.
Though as many folks pointed out when we discussed this on a bit Twitter, basics are relative. What’s fundamental to me is different than to you. Stuff that I’m comfortable with might terrify someone else. In other words, basics and beginner-hood are in the eyes of the beholder.
As an equestrian, you grow tired of jumping the same paltry fences or getting lectured on keeping your heels down and your seat centered. You want to soar over the big fences while the crowd gasps in wonderment because to you, the paltry fences are the basics. For someone who’s never been on a horse before that context shifts dramatically. For them, the basics might just be not falling off.
But the reality is that wherever we sit, there’s often still restlessness around being a beginner in our own context, and a reticence to be labeled as such.
So what drives that? Is it impatience? Arrogance? How others might perceive us? Discomfort with what we don’t understand that drives an eagerness to move onto something else, if only just to find our footing?
I’m not sure I have an answer to this one, but it’s definitely got me thinking. What’s with our obsession here? Are you comfortable with being a beginner, or with teaching them to others? How do you decide when you’ve mastered the “fundamentals” and when you’re moving on, or can you ever really master them at all?
I’d love you to discuss this with me.
image credit: Richo.Fan