You can’t teach an old dog new tricks is an idiom I’ve always disputed. It seems like the phrase is just meant to make us all feel bad and give up learning anything new once we hit adulthood. As a child you don’t tend to face the same fears or social anxieties that you do as an adult, and naturally this makes learning things a bit easier. But as an adult you also have a whole new set of skills, knowledge, and hopefully more common sense.
I could go into a rant about politics, society and ageism, but hey, let’s leave that for another day shall we? Because I want to make this post a bit more lighthearted, and to openly talk about being an adult who wants to learn something new…but is actually a little scared by it.
I Want To Learn A New Skill, And I’m Scared
You see recently I decided that I wanted to learn a new skill – painting. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I convinced myself I’d be terrible at it. I told myself “you couldn’t do that as a child, so what makes you think you can do it as an adult?” And for a while I pushed it to the back of my head, whilst I battled with my inner self. Then one day whilst I was shopping, I passed by some art supplies.
All of a sudden I was excited. Excited for the possibilities of what I might create. What I might learn. And none of my worries seemed to matter anymore. I realised that if I didn’t take the chance, I’d never know. Sure, I might end up being a bit crap at it, but so what? I might actually end up being half good at it. But even more importantly I might end up enjoying it immensely. And whilst I may not be the next Frida Kahlo (Queen!), at least I’ve tried, and I’ve learnt something along the way.
Even if that something new is that I should not be left alone with art supplies and an overactive imagination.
It’s an Art
I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t be held back by what people think you can and can’t do – or should do. Just because you’ve bought your first toaster and are now a fully fledged adult (totally legist measurement of adulthood by the way), doesn’t mean you can’t also learn how to ride a horse. Or whatever it is you want to do.
Ultimately this isn’t about learning to paint, or some other new skill. It’s about broadening my horizons, and continuing to learn, even as an adult. I don’t think we should stop learning. And I don’t think we should ever stop listening to what’s inside our hearts.
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