New Can Be Overwhelming
A few years ago, I went skiing for the first time ever (what can I say, I grew up in Alabama and Georgia). We signed up for classes, and as my group passed a beginner class of four-year-olds, I remember my instructor saying that they really weren’t so different from us – just fearless, and closer to the ground. Those are two pretty fundamental differences! Concern for broken bones notwithstanding, though, I often find myself reflecting back to that moment when I am nervous about taking on something new. Maybe we were fearless kids at one point, but now I am an adult, and I know that new can be overwhelming.
My big sister is an OB, and a few months ago she was asked to serve as interim CMO at her clinic. She just hit mid-career, and her kids are in elementary school with some after-school extracurriculars, so the timing seemed good, and she went for it. She started on a Monday – and on that Friday she called me to ask if it was too soon to quit! I remember chatting about it later with my boss (also a Chief) who concurred that management is a completely different skill set than clinical medicine, one that no one really teaches us along the way – and again, that new can be overwhelming.
I say it so many times because I think we don’t always give ourselves the space to acknowledge that fact, especially as women. In fact, there is data that shows that even as little girls, we are socialized in a way that praises us for the end result, not the process. Taking on something new challenges us and stretches us in a way that can be uncomfortable, and honestly most of the time, it is easier to not even try.
But if we don’t try, we won’t succeed. I recently got back from ACC, and as usual, I find myself with all of these great ideas that the conference inspired in me. In these moments, I try to remind myself that failure is okay, and also that new can be overwhelming. Even though my new thoughts and ideas feel safer in my head than out loud and in practice, I want to see them through. I know I won’t necessarily, or even likely, get it right the first time. I know that it’s probably not going to feel great while doing it. (See: my first online date, my first barre class, my first IRB submission, etc.). But, I also know from all of these past experiences that it doesn’t stay overwhelming – that whatever it is, it really and truly does get easier with time and effort.
And to be clear, doing something new and overwhelming doesn’t have to mean getting entirely out of my comfort zone. I really love this post from Mari Andrew because it captures the idea of challenging myself in a realistic way so excellently.
As my brain continues to swirl with plans and proposals, I hope to remember that yes, new can be overwhelming, but that I should give myself the space to try.