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Does this picture intimidate you? Yeah...me too!

Updated: Oct 27, 2019


What springs to mind when you look at this picture?

Have you ever been on any social media platform and come across images that instantly caused you - whether consciously or subconsciously - to think something like "this [post] isn't for someone like me" or "that looks impossible - I can't do that!" or "I'm not fit/ strong/ healthy/ muscly/ beautiful/ sexy/ [whatever] enough to do that?


I know I have!


We are inherently drawn to eye-catching images that grab and hold our attention, so it's natural for social media influencers to post pictures that do just that. Pictures that are out of the ordinary - that make us go, "wow!" - are far more likely to make us take notice and read the corresponding article.


The problem with this, however, is that it can make us feel like we've failed at something before we've even begun; before we've even given it a try to see if we enjoy it or not. I can 100% vouch for this based on my own instinctual response when I look at this 👇 picture of a yogi twisted into a superhuman pretzel knot. I'm immediately like, "How does she do that? I don't think I'd ever be able to do that!" 😲

The image itself isn't the issue - kudos to these ladies for their inspirational hard work and dedication! - and logically we know that if we diligently work towards mastering a physical skill we'll also definitely improve and reach our end goal. I know that if I took the time and devoted the energy to getting good at yoga, I'd probably be able to do something vaguely resembling the above picture. The issue, I think, is that most of us have an innate fear of rejection; of being excluded because we're not as good at something as the rest of the group, or because we're new to an activity that others may have mastered years ago. This is true of starting something new in all areas of our life, but let's be honest: if there's one area that most of us are more than happy to grab hold of any excuse that presents itself, it's physical activity! But is this because we truly don't enjoy the exercise, or is it that we avoid trying new activities in the first place because we're afraid we don't measure up? I believe the two feed each other in a vicious cycle: we don't try something new because we're scared that we'll be "worse" at it than everyone else, so then we can't improve at it because we don't take the time to practice, so then we don't try it, so then we can't improve at it...and on and on and on!


Take joining a running club, for example. Say the most running you've ever done in your life is running to catch the elevator in time, or sprinting to grab the last pair of absolutely MUST-HAVE shoes at a clearance sale (hey, it happens! 😋). Say you then reach a point where you feel like you'd like to give running a try, so you consider joining a running club. You then proceed to Google local running clubs, and this 👇 is the first image that jumps out at you. What would your immediate reaction be? Would you feel intimidated; like there's no way you'll be able to keep up? Would you reconsider wanting to take up running at all? Would you convince yourself that the best way to avoid feeling left out, rejected, or "not good enough" is simply not to tie up your shoelaces in the first place?


Just a quick Sunday morning 40-miler...casual 😎😅

All seasoned runners had a specific date that they began their running journey; they weren't born as expert endurance athletes! And the very same is true for you and me. Starting something new can be difficult and intimidating, and you may feel unsure of yourself because you're out of your comfort zone. But it may just be the way you discover a passion you never knew you had; a passion that fills you with joy and confidence, and that you master because you enjoy it so much! One thing is for certain: we'll never know if we don't try!


One good way to feel less intimidated about starting something new is to put ourselves in another person's shoes and consider how we'd view the newbie. Think about it: if you were a marathon runner who saw a new face at your running club, would you think, "pffff what a loser, she's never run before in her life!"?? No! You'd think something like "good for her, branching out and taking a positive step towards improving her health." You'd remember your very first day at that running club, because here's the thing: every single person there had a first day, too!


I want to stress again that the issue isn't the image; the issue is our perception of the image and - even more importantly - our attitude towards ourselves! Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure before we've even given something a try, because our internal dialogue sounds a lot like "I can't do that, I won't fit in, I'm not fit/ athletic/ hardcore enough." Like, NO! You are enough, beautiful person! You are above and beyond enough! And you can do anything you set your mind to - it's all about giving yourself the chance by taking that first step!


We've all heard the saying, "a journey of a

thousand miles begins with a single step."

I like this one even more:


"every expert was once a beginner."


All seasoned runners have a specific date that they began their running journey; they weren't born as expert endurance athletes! And the very same is true for you and me. Starting something new can be difficult and intimidating, and you may feel unsure of yourself because you're out of your comfort zone. But it might just be the way you discover a passion you never knew you had; a passion that fills you with joy and confidence, and that you master because you enjoy it so much! One thing is for certain: we'll never know if we don't try!


One good way to feel less intimidated about starting something new is to put ourselves in another person's shoes and consider how we'd view the newbie. Think about it: if you were an experienced marathon runner who saw a new face at your running club, would you think, "pffff what a loser, she's never run before in her life!"?? No! You'd think something like "good for her, branching out and taking a positive step towards improving her health." You'd remember your very first day at that running club, because here's the thing: everyone else had a first day, too!


I used to have a crippling fear of speaking Afrikaans, because I was so afraid I'd pronounce something incorrectly or make mistakes and sound stupid. And you know what? All that did was make me never practice speaking Afrikaans, so I couldn't improve at it, so I stayed anxious about it, so I never practiced speaking it! This lead to major anxiety when I met Hannes' family for the first time (Afrikaans is my amazing, wonderful, absolutely incredible blessing of a husband's first language 😊). But you know what I realized? I realized that I don't sit around judging others when they're speaking their second language, so why on earth would I think they'd be judging me when I do the same? I've been speaking Afrikaans as much as possible since having that "a-ha" moment, and even though I still make mistakes, I've improved a lot and feel much more confident in my second language abilities! Isn't it funny how a fear we've created and magnified in our own minds can be the obstacle that holds us back from trying new things, or improving at others?


Another good way to feel more confident about journeying into unfamiliar territory is to go with a friend who's also trying something out for the first time. This will alleviate any anxiety you may feel about being excluded or left behind, and you'll have fun hearing each other's opinions and figuring things out together.


Whether it's joining a running club, going to a cooking class, trying your hand at the piano, taking up a new language or an online course...the possibilities are endless, and we should explore them with confidence in our own abilities! (Please know that I'm saying this to myself just as much as I'm saying it to you - we all need a little reminder every now and then 😊).


Branch out! Take a chance on yourself! Believe that you can improve at something if you put in the time and effort. Don't allow your perception of a picture, or your perception of yourself, to hold you back from trying something new and potentially wonderful! You are fit/ strong/ healthy/ muscly/ beautiful/ sexy/ [whatever] enough to do anything you set your mind to doing!


Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you are SO LOVED 💖


Ciao for now xx

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