As I have said over and over again, I do not believe in progress. Well, I do not believe progress is good in itself – the same as I don’t believe in originality and tradition, and a great many similar concepts. I don’t think being new or old makes something inherently good. Both old and new things can be good, bad, neutral, unfortunate, irrelevant. Their age has nothing to do with it.
But at the same time I do believe strongly in trying new things. They may not be good; they can, in fact, be anything from destructive through average to the best experiences ever. But on some level even some of the darkest – not all, of course, there are things that bring nothing light into our lives – experiences can teach us something and can be worth giving them a go.
And here’s why.
It may actually be fun
Let’s start with the simplest, most straight-forward reason in the book: trying new things may be fun.
It doesn’t have to be, of course, but actually trying them is the only way to find new hobbies and interests. You can watch other people do it, but you’ll never know whether they are for you unless you actually experience them. There are plenty of things we enjoy watching and don’t enjoy doing. All of us have a nice collection of these. The only way to distinguish between these two is to try.
After all, everything was new at some point
When it comes to our experiences, there are no chicken or egg situations. Everything we are doing right now, everything we are enjoying, has been done by us for the first time… at some point.
Now think about the single hobby that makes you happiest. No matter how silly or embarrassing or not-sophisticated it is, I won’t judge, just focus on how much you enjoy it. Recall this tangling feeling in your brain when you get completely lost in what you are doing. Bring back the smile on your face, the one you can never get rid of, whenever you have any spare time for it.
And now imagine none of that ever happened.
Sure, you could have found something else. Chances are, though, that there are only few things that we really really love in our lives, only a few experiences created almost as if to indulge us. What if by sheer stubbornness and prejudice or simple laziness we could have missed out on them?
Assumptions can be a pesky thing
Funny thing about assumptions, they can be the best and the worst we can do.
For instance, if there is a tiger approaching us, it is safe to assume it is going to bite our head off and run away quickly. In this sense, assumptions can be lifesaving, or at least can warn us of any other dangers around.
Assumptions are also very useful, if done correctly, in solving certain problems. In real life, unlike in a Maths or Physics classroom, we are often starved of some of the information required to resolve whatever worries us at that moment. Assumptions help fill in the blanks.
But there are certain assumption we should not make. I will not like this is often a very bad one, for example, unless we are absolutely certain it will cause us physical and/or mental harm. I will not like being run over by a car is a good assumption. I will not like this book is not.
Often, we find a thing irresistible from the first moment we hear about them; but sometimes, sometimes we need a longer experience to warm up to something. Should we miss out on enjoyment just because it doesn’t seem that fun at first?
And some assumptions are just based on prejudice
The thing I hate most in the world – although hate may be a bit of an exaggeration – is eating my own words. I am not alone in this hatred; I would find it bizarre if there were people who enjoy it. Admitting you are wrong is the right thing to do and it takes quite a person to do it too; but it is never pleasant.
One of the grand ways to avoid eating your own words is to actually try things before judging them. Crazy, I know, but there is method to that madness.
The price to pay is not that high
Of course, there are situations in which trying new things can cost us dearly – but I would bet these are significantly less common than the ones in which there is nothing for us to lose.
Being safe and cautious should be our number 1 rule when it comes to new things. Heroine is probably not on the list of safe things to try. But reading a book of a genre we don’t like? Going to pottery classes? Volunteering in a school?
I remember some time ago I made my boyfriend suffer by taking him to a contemporary dance class. Please note I have never been to one before; I was just curious to know how they function. Turns out it is not for me, and it is VERY MUCH not for him. But at the end of the day, no matter how boring we found this experience, all we lost was an hour of our lives. An hour can be a lot, true, but it is also not much at the same time; and it’s not like I wouldn’t waste it on Netflix anyway.
Whatever happens, it will change you
This will sound very soppy, but I don’t truly think there is such a thing as wasted time.
Trying new things, experiencing the vast world around us, it all leaves an impression on us. In the least extreme circumstances, it will make us a person who doesn’t like contemporary dance. But it can reinvent our lives.
It can also reinvent us. Imagine you take a poetry class. You may find out you don’t really like writing poetry; but while attending it, you can learn how to talk about your work, how to present and pitch, and you may make some new friends in the process. You never know what you can learn from an experience until you try it.
It may just surprise you in the best way possible.