Monday, 30 May 2016

Why new?

As a self-confessed creature of habit, it may come as a surprise that my chosen blog topic is advocating all things new. If you ask anyone who knows me well, they will say what I hate most is change. And spiders. One is an irrational fear shared by many, and the other? I'll leave you to answer that. I tried once to cure my self of that panicky, spine tingling reaction to all things eight-legged by holding a tarantula at a wildlife park. Even at the age of 21, I still made my mum go first hoping that she'd chicken out. She didn't and I practically sobbed in front of a bunch of kids much younger than myself as the spider walked sedately across my hand. Fear cured? Not a jot.
But two very important questions arise from this instance. Firstly, were all the kids present that day, super kids with no fear? Of course not, they just jumped on an opportunity to try something new. How many of their peers at school the next day could boast such brave exploits? And yet the same reaction could not be said of their parents, dutifully taking photos of their little heroes whilst studiously avoiding the hairy beast themselves...
Secondly, if we treat 'common' fears like snakes, spiders, heights etc. as something to be overcome, why do we often lack the same approach to fear of the unknown?
I believe the two are inextricably tied. As children, all we hear from our caregivers is "Don't say you don't like it til you try it." We are encouraged to try all sorts of things (vegetables aside), and our childish curiosity embraces the new as exciting, sometimes scary, but definitely worth a go. Yet as we age, our routines grow with us as safe comfortable bubble as we navigate through such milestones as changing schools, moving house, first jobs etc. The 'New' suddenly becomes this dark shadow, always looming over us threatening the familiar which we have come to rely on like a pair of cosy well-worn slippers. They do their job, keeping our feet warm day after day, but they will only ever be one thing. The same can be said of life - you cannot expect it to be anything other than it has always been unless you do something different to change that.
I have seen first hand how powerful an effect stepping outside of your comfort zone can be. Sometimes you discover things you love, like new food, new friends, a TV show or even new places or hobbies. Sometimes you discover new things to hate. Like kumara, aka the potato's evil twin. Either way, you are learning more about yourself than simply likes and dislikes: how you react to new experiences may be the most important. You may discover you can cope far better in a novel situation than you thought - I discovered that once I'd gotten over the fact that I wasn't going to die, I quite enjoyed white water rafting. You may also learn aspects of your character you thought you knew could turn round and surprise you - I believed myself to be very trusting until an acro-yoga workshop revealed it was harder than I thought to trust strangers to quite literally support your 'flight'.
So this is where this blog comes in. Not to preach but merely to serve as an example of how doing something different, reading something new or traveling into the unknown can have a profound effect on our character and how we see the world. And just maybe, start to realize the shadow of change is something we can befriend after all. So come, my fellow creatures of habit, allow me to introduce you to the Power of New...

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