Rule # 16. Experience is relative.
When I started lifting weights this year, I was pretty intimidated. Not because I’m a small guy (I’m wirey), but because I didn’t know what I was doing. Sure, I could look up deadlifts and squats on YouTube and see how they’re supposed to be done, but to be honest my proprioception isn’t that great, so I was worried I would do these things wrong. I stressed about it a little, but luckily my friend Karrah was able to show me the ropes. Then I didn’t feel so awkward about the situation.
It was nice that my buddy could help me out, but I really shouldn’t have let myself get stressed out by this. It wasn’t an Olympic gym full of competitive weightlifters; it was a freaking Planet Fitness, where they have pizza nights once a month. But I let it worry me because I was inexperienced with weightlifting. Or so I thought.
When I got into the swing of it, I wasn’t nearly as inexperienced as I had feared; I have been doing bodyweight squats for years, I’m reasonably fit, and I can do pull-ups unassisted. There were plenty of folks in the gym who couldn’t do that. To them, I had more experience. That’s because experience level is relative.
This doesn’t just apply to exercise. When it comes to camping, I have tons more experience than my wife does, but I’m not an expert. There are people who know so much more than I do, and I try to learn from them. That’s how it’s supposed to work; we seek insight and assistance from those who have more experience than us, while helping and educating those who have less.
Occasionally, we run into problems with people who are more experienced than we are. They act smug, self-important, and dismissive. It’s unpleasant, because when we have less experience, we’re counting on individuals with more expertise to help us out. Unfortunately, some people forget that we’re all rookies at some point. Everybody starts somewhere, and nobody starts from the top. No one is a born expert. Keep that in mind someone comes asking for your help.
So don’t get too stressed out over your own inexperience. Seek out help when and where you need it. Offer assistance when and where you can. We’re all traveling our own paths, but it’s worthwhile to help each other out when we can. If you have no idea what you’re doing now, that’s okay, just keep at it. In a year or so, when someone asks you for help, you’ll see how far you’ve come! So remember, don’t worry if you’re not an expert; no one starts that way. No matter how many people have more experience, there is always someone who has less, because experience is relative.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is an ongoing weekly article that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life.