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Yes, beginnings are exciting, new and filled with shiny possibilities. They really are.
But they are also usually pretty bumpy.
The fact that beginnings are bumpy does not indicate that you’ve started the wrong new thing. Or that the new thing you’ve tried is a bad fit for you and your skills. Or that you’re bad at the new thing. (Actually, you might very well be bad at it now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be bad at it.)
Beginnings are bumpy because they’re new. You haven’t had the chance to settle in and get to know this new thing that you’ve started. You haven’t had the chance to calm down and let go of your first-time jitters. You haven’t had the chance to practice. You haven’t had the chance to work out the kinks.
So, as we begin anything, we need to give ourselves a chance. We need to remind ourselves to trust the process.
In essence, when we trust the process, we are sticking to a long-term plan despite a few bad outcomes in the short-term.
Trusting the process, for me at least, is what keeps me going as I get bounced around by my beginnings’ bumps. And, for me at least, there are always seem to be bumps. For the record, I really don’t enjoy bumps. I strongly prefer smooth – smooth water under my water skis, smooth snow under my snow skis, smooth air currents as I fly. You get the picture.
Despite the bumps of any new beginning, I have learned to trust that anything that I decide is worth beginning is worth sticking with for longer than the first few bumpy moments. I have learned (despite my ability to catastrophize with the best of them) to trust that the painful kinks of a new thing are not actually a death knell for that new thing. I have learned to trust my ability to climb almost any reasonable learning curve.
I suspect the beginning of my yoga practice had a lot to do with my ability to trust the process of beginning. I’m not sure there has ever been a bumpier beginning. I’m certain there was no reason for my teacher to suspect that she was witnessing the start of a practice that would span a decade and a half and become my life’s work.
I walked into her class wearing nothing that resembled yoga clothes. Everyone else was in fitted pants and tops. I was in the baggy shorts, over-sized t-shirt and socks that I walked the dog in. My mat was so “wrong” (a thick, cushy, blue thing perfect for protecting your tailbone while doing sit-ups) that she immediately pulled out a loaner for me to use. I was so inflexible that I could barely touch my shins let alone my toes in a forward fold. I was so weak that my low push-up (chaturanga) looked like a belly flop. I burst out into quiet laughter more than once at my remarkable inability to do what she’d asked us to do. Looking back, it still makes me laugh. The “bumps” in that particular beginning more closely resembled a ski hill than a mogul.
Yet this was the beginning of the next stage of my life. I didn’t know it at the time (and wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me), but this was the start of everything I dreamed of having. A passion. A practice to help heal me and transform me. A profession. Not to get overly dramatic, but at many times in my life, yoga has felt like my calling.
But not that day. That day, there was no sign of any of that. In fact, there was no visible natural aptitude at all. There was just a quiet sense deep within me at the end of that first class (11:00 on a Monday morning in September of 2002, in case you’re wondering) that I’d just done something different than anything I’d ever done. And that, despite everything that went “wrong” that morning, I wanted to do it again.
So I did. A lot. And I got better.
Which is how you navigate the bumps of any new beginning. You trust the process by showing up again. And again and again and again.
So, whatever you’re starting right now – or whatever you started last week or the week before – remind yourself that a smooth start is not a prerequisite for your eventual success. In fact, upon reflection, I wonder if the bumps aren’t actually a prerequisite for that. For it’s the bumps that make us apply ourselves, focus, get creative, be determined and pour ourselves into what we’re doing 100%. And each of those things is actually a prerequisite for long-term success.
Trust the process, my friends. I’m going to do the same.