The Joys of Being a Beginner
Guest Contributor: Megan Somloi
Remember what it was like to be a kid? The gleeful feeling of riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. Learning how to swim, play soccer, or even read your first chapter book. Everything was unfamiliar, exciting, and new.
You were probably a little rough around the edges but despite this, excitement easily filled you to the brim and plastered a perma-grin on your face.
In our adult lives, we don’t often get the same chances to be a beginner again. We’re "tired" from work, we have families and other obligations, we make excuses about time, money or ability levels. We get bogged down in our routines and comfort zones. It somehow seems more daunting to start from the ground up.
But regardless of age, there are few things in life that compare to the joys of spring boarding yourself into the deep end of unfamiliar waters. Profound rewards await when you experience and learn something new.
I’ve been lucky enough to be a curious beginner to many things in recent years - whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and to a strange extent, adulting. Pursuing these things sparked a new love for trying and failing a million times over. It’s stunning to look back and recognize how far I’ve actually come in these things that used to feel so unfamiliar and unnatural.
My newest beginner pursuit: skiing.
Growing up in Charlotte, NC, there weren’t many opportunities to experience snow. I didn’t ski for the first time until 2017, and then it was on the notorious ice/slush of Southern Appalachia. I skied a handful of times after that, hardly moving past the green runs.
After moving to Bend, OR in the summer of 2020, I now have a world-class resort, Mt. Bachelor, 20 minutes from my door. I’m stoked to ski every single weekend and in many ways (even beyond snow sports), I am living the dream. And guess what? I’m still not great at skiing - and that’s okay!
It’s all too easy to rush through the early stages of being a beginner. I want to ski deep powder, hit jumps, and weave through trees with style and steeze. I want to catch up with my friends and ski all the lines they do. I have goals I want to achieve today, not tomorrow. I’ve itched with big mountain dreams since binge watching Teton Gravity Research ski films. I’ve drooled over soft, sparkling powder and sharp mountain peaks cutting lines against the snow since moving out west.
Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in where I want to be that I forget to enjoy where I am.
One day, while bemoaning my lack of skills, a friend asked “Who’s the best skier on the mountain?” I tried a few guesses - Candide Thovex? Shane McConkey? Lindsey Vonn? Nope. “The one having the most fun." I couldn’t help but laugh. Not for the inaccuracy - just the opposite. He was right.
As a beginner, it’s easier to have fun. Without your ego or inhibitions in the way, you feel a stunning willingness to look foolish. It’s not fair to have massive expectations for yourself yet. You hoot and holler down the easy runs, the easy trails, the easy rapids because every small thing that eventually becomes commonplace is still a thrill. Are you nervous? Sure. But you also have an untarnished view of things.
My first-time skiing Mt. Bachelor, I whooped for joy looking out over the Sisters and Broken Top. I intentionally embraced each and every endless turn that day.
A few weekends ago, my roommate (who has skiied nearly her whole life), took me into an area called the “Trees of Doom”. I fell more than once and had nervous butterflies the whole time, but I also had triumphant moments - coming through drops upright, navigating tree groves and a wily traverse, skiing truly deep powder. It was a day of many firsts for me, and one of my favorite days on skis so far. My cheeks hurt from smiling and my heart leaped for joy at the end of the day.
In whitewater, we have a saying that “you only can run a rapid blind once!” While it’s often said in jest when avoiding scouting, it has an undeniable nugget of truth. You won’t be able to rewind to do something for the first time again. I won’t be able to recreate the feeling of my first-time skiing powder in the Trees of Doom - and let me tell you, THAT was a magical feeling, even in the midst of sloppy turns and falls.
The joy of being a beginner is despite learning curves and frustrations, you get to experience something that makes experts jealous. That elusive first time feeling.
So next time you’re learning something new, soak that novelty in. You will never be able to be a beginner again...until the next pursuit.
About the Author:
Megan shares a balanced love of stoke, cheesy jokes and life.
She is the Marketing and EComm Director at Aquaglide, is a bad ass, and an amazing human.
Journal - The Joys of Being a Beginner
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