I’m turning 36 this year, and I have had some sort of an awakening recently – there are a lot of things I have never done and don’t know how to do that would be super cool to learn about and to do.
I’ve always had my core interests, such as singing, acting, reading, writing, public speaking, cooking and baking, spending time with friends and family, and going to museums, and while those things still bring me joy, I realized there is so much more out there, and I have been limiting myself.
It’s easy to say things like, “I’m not athletic,” or “I can’t even boil water,” or “I don’t have a green thumb,” or “I’m too shy to do that.” But is it true? Why can’t we get better at certain things? Why can’t we just try a little harder?
Some things definitely come more naturally to me. But even as someone who love to act, sing, and speak, these were things I had to build up the courage to do and to do well. I am naturally very shy, and still am in large groups, especially when I am not in control of what’s happening. But, I stretched myself in middle school, and tried out a drama class. It changed my life.
That’s not the only time I have done something out of my nature – I actually held a snake once, and this year I got some color in my hair. I’m sure there are other examples, but generally, I have stuck with what’s comfortable and natural, as I’m sure most of us have.
I have decided that this year going forward I will be trying new and interesting things to see what new hobbies and skills I can come up with. I want to be a more complete version of myself, and do better at reaching my potential as a person.
For example, for Valentine’s Day this year, instead of Jad and I going out to dinner or a movie or something obvious like that, we did an intro to fencing couple’s class. We had an absolute blast, and it’s a night we will never forget. I hope to go back and do it again.
Jad and I also just got back from our 10-year anniversary trip to Asheville, NC. I wanted our trip to be there because I was so excited about the Downton Abbey exhibits at the Biltmore Estate. I spent many, many hours researching other things to do in our time there, and surprisingly, I felt drawn to more outdoor activities, like hiking to a waterfall, going horseback riding, and going whitewater rafting. And guess what? Those were my absolute favorite activities of the whole trip! It wasn’t the shopping or food or exhibits that made me happiest – it was the experience of doing something new and exciting.
To be fair, I had hiked to a waterfall before, but hiking is a fairly new love of mine (going to Chimney Rock with the kids last year was what brought that on). But, I had never ridden a horse before, unless you count me sitting on one while someone led me around in a square like 20 years ago. So, I went from that to riding up in the mountains with many steep hills and windy curves. And I had never thought in my life I would white water raft, but I knew my husband had done it, and I thought it would be fun to try. It was more than fun – it is something I want to do every year and eventually take my kids to do.
I fully admit that I was scared to death for some of the horseback riding. We got awful close to the edge sometimes, and one time I thought I was going to fall off while going down a very steep hill. But I didn’t! And the seemingly endless instructions for whitewater rafting freaked me out a little, thinking I would forget everything and fall out of the raft and die, but then everything worked out just fine. I gave my all, and it was quite the adventure!
I haven’t built up to zip-lining yet, but that’s next on my list. And then maybe rock climbing. Who knows? It is exhilarating to do new things, and then realize you love them!
I know that part of my desire to stretch myself is because I have gotten healthier in the past year due to working out regularly and eating healthy (most of the time). That has also been quite the stretch, honestly.
So, if you are reading this, think of something you have never thought you could do, and find a way to go do it! Maybe it’s shooting at a shooting range, learning how to garden, taking a dance class, learning an instrument – the sky’s the limit!
Don’t tell yourself you can’t do something or you wouldn’t be good at it. If you say it and believe it, you’ll be right. But, if you decide that you can do hard things, then you can. You will just need to take that first step! It may take several steps and lots of work, but just get started and see where you’ll go!
You are worth it – stretch yourself!