An Ode to Being a Beginner

SRUTHI SAJEEV | FEATURES


This piece is by no means an attempt to convince you that starting a new craft or learning something new can completely change your life and give you that clarity that so many university students long for after a period of transition to the cold, adult world. This is however, in praise of the benefits of looking stupid and in having to grapple with your own insecurities. It is an ode to starting something new despite, if you’re anything like me, wondering if you have to be more selective in the way that you use your time, especially due to the increased responsibilities which come with entering adulthood.


On the night of April 15th 2021, if you went to a certain school in Cherrybrook and entered the big hall near the entrance, you would have seen a sorry, but somewhat hilarious sight. 2 flailing arms, fast, interrupted, jagged movements- the struggles of a 19 year old girl struggling to learn Bharatanatyam, which is an Indian classical dance form that most would start learning at a young age (and with good reason). My motivation for starting this was primarily losing interest in my other hobbies. It was the ensuing identity crisis which led me to want to try something new. Only, I was hesitant to make the leap purely due to my age and the fear of having to get familiar with feelings of deep inadequacy.


While I never intended to become a great dancer, as a beginner you’re constantly made aware of how much progress you have to make compared to those who started as children and thus had less responsibilities as a beginner. Starting something new, whether it is a new craft or simply embracing the responsibilities of adulthood means coming to terms with your flaws, and sometimes realising that you're not the person you expected to be when you envisioned your adult self as a child.


But I believe that despite the lack of glory associated with being a beginner, there are several positive aspects to this which deserve to be spoken about. Developing the habit of being observant of your flaws can be useful in all aspects of life, including your studies at university. For example, in starting dance I learned that I’m not good at truly focussing on something or in concentrating for long periods of time. The primary philosophy behind Indian dance is learning how to be in the present and to focus on your movements, your expressions. This also means abandoning the fear of forgetting steps and to stop wondering about how the other members of your class are coping with a new step. This was especially useful when coping with exam and study stress. It is also a good example of how in comparing yourself to others, you lose sight of your own path which can lead you to make more mistakes.


From my personal experience, after the leap of deciding to do something new, I became more likely to start doing other things which I wasn’t initially comfortable in doing, such as volunteering and taking up bigger roles in university clubs and it made the transition to young adulthood into one that was more hopeful.


While I’m not sure when or whether I will truly master this new craft, I still treasure the impact that not only dance has had on my identity, but of the sheer act of deciding to try something new. So here’s to trying new things and to a 2022 filled with many great opportunities.