On beginning: An open letter

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Plato

The question isn’t ‘What do you want to do?’ because really, deep down, you know what you have always wanted to do. It’s a question of how to begin, where do I start? We look up to those seemingly lucky few who appear to have reached their goals and aspirations with admiration and mild envy, wondering where they even got the courage to start. What is it that we need to be able to begin?

There’s a reason why so many sayings that capture a beginning sound a little terrifying and speak of the unknown. ‘A leap of faith’ always conjures images of a diver, arms wide-spread, jumping off a cliff into an unknown abyss. To begin something takes that leap of faith, it’s a chance that you take on yourself. You must trust that your ideas, dreams and abilities are things that can be relied on to take you to where you want to go. Often it is the wavering of this trust that causes us to doubt ourselves, sometimes to not even begin to start looking for what it is we need or hope to become.

To begin something takes a leap of faith, it’s a chance you take on yourself.

The beginning of a journey whether personal or physical can be exciting, nerve-wracking and even terrifying. The world makes us risk averse, ‘What if people don’t like it?’, ‘What if no one comes to my shop?’, ‘What if the thing I pour my heart into isn’t worth it?’ These are all valid concerns but which come from self-doubt and stop us in our tracks.

Now, I’m not saying that to begin is easy. All too often there is a ‘Just get on with it’ attitude that pervades, pushed on us by motivational quotes, speeches and even well-meaning friends and family. That is not to say that those means of support are not well-intended or in some cases sorely needed, it’s that the people who supply them have nothing at risk. They having nothing to lose by encouraging you to pursue your goals, its a win-win for them. The only person who is risking anything, is you. So as well-meaning as it is, it can be off-putting in some ways. It can become a pressure to rise to a certain expectation, when you’re not sure if you can begin in the first place. Plus often material obstacles can be an issue, like money, it can be easy for a rich person to tell someone to just get on with it, they have more money as their safety net, so what about the everyday person? Is it harder to begin without that safety net? Probably, but despite what our doubt says, we all have it in us to take that chance on ourselves. We can take ownership of our goals, be our own safety net and trust that no matter what happens we can see it through to the end. Even if we hit hurdles along the way we can pick ourselves up again, dust ourselves off and carry on.

Even if we hit hurdles along the way we can pick ourselves up again, dust ourselves off and carry on.

So trust yourself to begin that journey, know that you will grow and with practice you will get better. There will be twists and turns along the way, sure there might even be obstacles; days where you’re not sure if you can carry on, days where you question what the heck you were thinking in the first place. It can be scary to start but trust yourself to become who you want to be. Know that as you grow, the dream that you had to begin with may change and grow as well, you may even discard it and start on a new dream, endless possibilities abound and in the end you’ll learn more about yourself.

So what are you waiting for…begin.

Picture: Man Diving Off Cliff by Dana Edmunds

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