Throw yourself in the deep end
We're all afraid of things we haven't experienced before.
We'd like to take a more responsible job, but we're not sure we can deal with it. We'd like to meet new people, but we're afraid that they won't like us. We'd like to try out a new activity, but we're worried about making a fool out of ourselves.
All of these concerns are legitimate. If we try something new, there's a good chance we may fail at it. Failure and defeat are two of life's great teachers, and facing our fears is often the only way to learn.
When I look back at the times when I really improved my skills in any given activity - it was invariably when I chose to throw myself in the deep end. Being out of your depth is usually unpleasant, but you'll be surprised at how quickly your mind, body and personality will adjust to the new, more challenging circumstances.
Before long, you'll be much better at the activity in question, and you'll be able to look superior to those quivering on the side of life's pool in fear with fear, as you swim and dive with skill and confidence.
I've spent most of my working life in the information technology field. It can be very demanding, with the skills required changing all the time. Its often necessary to change jobs every year just to keep up. I've had some jobs where I arrive and I already know almost everything necessary to do them. These can be very comfortable and easy.
The jobs where I really learn a lot though are those where I find myself out of my depth. I struggle to keep up with the tasks set for me, and my workmates in these jobs sometimes even go as far as to ridicule my lack of the required skills.
It's not fun being in this kind of situation! It usually only lasts a few months though, the desire to regain control over my working life motivates me to quickly gain the skills required. Being forced to understand the sometimes baffling requirements of a particular task sharpens my mind.
I come out the other side of these "baptisms of fire" stronger and with more aptitude than before. This means I increase my earning potential and the respect I will gain doing future work.
The same applies when I'm trying out a new sporting activity. I find that if I compete with people who have similar abilities to me, my skills take a long time to improve. If I compete with someone who's much better than me, I'm sure to feel the humiliating sting of defeat, but I often surprise myself at how quickly I improve.
If my will is strong enough to withstand feeling like a loser in the early days, and I keep my competitive determination despite a long string of defeats, I emerge stronger than ever. There's few things in life more satisfying than beating someone who'd written you off as beneath them in skill level.
Again, you can apply this lesson in your social life. If there's someone you'd like to talk to, pipe up and just talk to them. You may feel embarrassed and even make a fool of yourself, but you'll soon gain more confidence in social situations. Try to join a social group you've always wanted to, or organize an event. The early awkward feelings will be replaced by confidence as you become used to the more challenging side of social activities.
Feeling out of your depth can be scary and embarrassing, but the price is worth paying for the abilities and confidence you'll gain.
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