“Try it.” They’d say while they hovered the spoon full of potato salad before me. I was only four, and my tastes had not really advanced past that of waffles and cheese sandwiches. What was this whitish yellow blob that seemed to clump and stick to pretty much anything? There was no way I was trying that, especially not by force. I did eventually try potato salad and what I learned was that my four year old self was right, it wasn’t something I wanted.
I give this odd story from my childhood to illustrate the importance of trying new things. Even though in the end I discovered for a fact that I didn’t like potato salad, I was never really able to honestly say it until I tried it. Trying new things isn’t always about finding out if you like them or not, it sometimes is about allowing yourself to grow as a person as test your limitations, often breaking through them and becoming greater than you were.
Last week I talked a bit about my new journey hiking Turkey Mountain for sixty days. Now, while hiking isn’t something new to me it was something I hadn’t really done since my days as a Cub Scout a fews years after I first refused potato salad. What was new was my dedication to testing my endurance and my will to achieve something as physical and rigorous as hiking a mountain every day. For the last few years I have regularly lifted weights and tried to stay in shape, but hiking was a new world that I hadn’t ventured into yet. It scared me and I liked it.
Many of us graduate high school and get a job and don’t really grow past that. We pick up a few standard hobbies and that keeps us happy until the day we die. Some of us continue our education into college and again find jobs and pick up hobbies that keep us happy until the day we die. In these years of the expected education time we do try new things and discover things about ourselves we didn’t know, but after we leave these institutions the majority of us begin to settle and no longer seek that new challenge.
My initial goal with college was to become an actor. I thought I had it all set, but through that I discovered filmmaking and screenwriting. I scoffed at photographers in the DSLR world for doing something as simple as snapping a photo and letting the camera do the work. I did this because I didn’t understand photography. It wasn’t until video work dried up that I really tried to branch out and see how else I could make money using my expensive gear and photography was the answer. Once I got into it I discovered that I wasn’t any good at all and it was more than just having an expensive DSLR and some lights that made a good photo. As I tried new things to capture the images I thought were good I began to notice that I was getting better, not only in photography, but with my video work as well. My films were looking better and that was partly to do with my greater understanding of the still image. I tried something new and it paid off. Luckily I ended up liking photography and it didn’t meet the same fate as potato salad.
We should all try to find ways to push ourselves further and try things we’ve either always wanted to or something that scares us. Last year I won a kayak in a raffle and have yet to take it out. That is the next thing I am going to try new. I may hate it, but I will not really know until I try. Hiking has sparked a love in me for nature and the forest, maybe kayaking will give me a love for the water and the rivers that run through those forests I love to hike.
Comment and tell me something you’ve been wanting to try or that scares you and then go out and do it. Trust me, the worst that will happen is you’ll discover something about yourself you didn’t know. That is unless what you want to try is extremely dangerous and life threatening like swim with great white sharks with no cage around you. Then the worst would be death and you don’t want that. Hopefully.