Outdoor Diary: Why Going Outside Makes It Easier to Try New Things

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Disliking new things doesn’t make you weak or scared — it makes you normal. But the good news is that nature is the perfect tool for teaching us to be OK with the new and uncomfortable. Why is that? And how has it impacted Amy? In this week’s Outdoor Diary, Amy talks about why heading outside makes it easier to try new things in all parts of life, plus the new thing she’s finally working on.

Some of the good stuff:

[:26]: Life is full of trying new things

[:58]: Amy, the Queen of Avoidance

[1:37]: Avoidance is limiting

[3:08]: Skate skiing

[5:53]: Where to find Humans Outside

Connect with this episode:

Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

It’s a theme I’ve visited before on the Outdoor Diary — trying new things, how to make yourself do it, why it’s important. That’s because life is full of trying new things … if you want it to be. Or rather, whether you want it to be or not, life is full of the chance to try new things. Whether you figure out how to always avoid having to do so is up to you.

And that might be what you want to do or who you feel like you are — an avoider of new things. You like feeling safe — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to feel safe. In fact if we wanted to go really deep into human psychology here, we would talk about how feeling safe is a basic human need we are all chasing all the the time. New things push you outside your comfort or safety zone into a place that feels risky or unsafe. Of COURSE you want to avoid them. That’s just good sense.

And I am the queen of that, I might add. I avoid new things and physical challenges that are outside my comfort zone because they feel unsafe. Risky. Scary. No thanks.

But that, I have been taught by several of our podcast guests, including Cordele Glass in episode 99, limits me in all parts of my life. It limits me from growing in my career because I don’t want to risk the familiar for a promotion full of unknowns. Yikes. No. It limits me with my family, because I don’t push my kids to learn new things and grow because I don’t want to put them and by extension me into situations I see as risky or without for-sure outcomes. It limits me from seeing a richness of life I could have by meeting new people or going new places.

Cordele’s top message on this was that going outside is a great way to teach yourself to try new things, because no matter what you do outside or where you go, you WILL encounter something new. You can’t avoid it. Everything is new outside all of the time. And the more you encounter something new to you outside, the more OK with seeing new things you become.

And now, before you even know it, you aren’t just seeing and experiencing new things, you are expanding that comfort zone to trying new things. You got OK with bending and flexing to new weather, changing what you’re wearing when encountering something new from the sky. And now you’re ok with going somewhere new. And now, after going somewhere new, you’re ok with trying something new when you get there.

See what’s happening? You’re expanding your safety zone to include new experiences all because heading outside offered an on-ramp to expanding your bubble.

And now, if you’re me, your bubble includes skiing which is something you swore on national TV is something you’d never ever do. Ever.

A recent outdoor highlight for me included our first skate ski lessons. Now I’m no skiing expert by any means, but I will tell you that if you’re not familiar with skiing you might think, like I did, that skiing is just skiing.

But no. There are apparently 1 million types of skiing, all of which require their own types of skis. This, in turn, means that if you want to do any of them successfully you must either rent or own a vast variety of equipment. Downhill? Classic cross country? Skate skiing? Backcountry? Telemark? It’s unbelievable, but I digress.

The thing I’ve been itching to learn how to do ever since I headed out for my first time on cross country skis a few years ago was skate skiing. In this type of cross country skiing your skis are in a V and you, well, use a skate motion to go forward. Classic cross country your skis are vertical and you move forward in a sort of crawl motion. That’s my non-expert description for you.

Skiing takes a lot of balance, which I am not known for, athleticism, which I’m working on, and technique, which I definitely do not have.

One of the top things I’ve learned as I’ve become someone who is OK with trying new things outside thanks to that on-ramp we talked about earlier, is that my biggest mistake is thinking I have to try those things without any kind of guidance or help. Lies! Just like you wouldn’t learn a new language without some kind of assistance from an instructor, book or app — you do not need to learn a new outdoor skill by simple trial and error on your own. Can you imagine heading into a foreign country and just hoping you pick up the language on your own without any book or assistance at all? You could probably do it but it would take an extremely long time.

The day it dawned on me that help was not just available but a good idea was a pivotal day. Because trying new things outside is a whole lot more safe feeling when you have help. And so now I’m a big fan of paying for a few lessons, asking for help from a friend or hiring a guide service for my first attempt.

For skiing that means signing up for a few lessons. Our local non profit ski club offers beginner lessons for a very low price, staffed by volunteers who have been teaching beginners to ski for a lifetime.

And so we headed out for our first skate ski lessons, trying something new with the help of someone who knows what they are doing. I definitely need more lessons and a lot – A LOT – of practice. But I’m proud of me for being someone who is now willing to do this. And I know that I never would’ve gotten to this point had it not been for an outdoor habit that showed me that new things are OK.

If you want to see pictures of me trying new things in nature you can check out my daily photo on Humans Outside on Facebook or Instagram. And I want to see your photos too, which I know are full of new things. You can tag them on Facebook or Instagram with #humansoutside365.

Until next time, I’ll see you out there.

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