Learning New things

July 29th, 2015 by Victoria Brown

When I was travelling around Asia a few months ago, one of the countries I visited was the Philippines. After a very stressful and busy time working in South Korea, my fiancé and I decided we needed a bit of chill out time, time to fully relax, recharge our batteries and enjoy some quality time together without worrying about any projects.

One day, I was sitting around the hotel pool and found myself fixated on a woman whose partner was trying to teach her how to swim. As she attempted breast-stroke, she wasn’t far off drowning if not for her partner’s support. Struggling to stay afloat, she was panicking for fear of not being able to do it. She became irritated and was trying to suppress her frustration and anger at not being able to do what must seem such a simple exercise.

As the newest member of the Steps team starting recently in June, I came with the expectation that I would have a lot to learn; it became instantly apparent that I have an awful lot to learn, especially in the area of computers and the corporate world. At times, when I’ve started something new and had to gain new knowledge, it felt as though I was drowning and wondering if I’d ever be as apt as my peers or fellow colleagues who made challenges look simple.

As yet, I have not had a proven track record of being a settler, not being anywhere or working at a specific place for very long. This has been fantastic in some respects and I have a lot of different experiences under my belt. I have met and worked with a range of different people from varying backgrounds, worked and lived aboard, been inspired and generally hope that it has made me a better person.

The downside is never being the one in a company that’s “part of the furniture” - not that I’m sure that’s what I ever wanted - but constantly starting over has its challenges; I remember working as a flight attendant for Qantas and arriving at Heathrow for my first flight after completing my training – I was in the office nice and early for the briefing, but as the rest of the crew piled in and were greeting each other I found myself hiding in the corner, trying not to vomit, holding my hands together because I was shaking and taking deep breaths to avoid a panic attack. I was flying my first flight on the Boeing 747, there were two sets of 16 crew in the offices, none of whom I knew, and I remember being terrified – oh and did I mention it was Christmas Day? Drowning. I was drowning - until someone sat next to me and asked if I was OK. I was in such a state that I didn’t even hear her say “Hello” or recognise that she was a friend from my time with a previous airline. We weren’t on the same flight but she sat with me until our briefings started.

At drama school I was constantly infected by the fear of failure, learning new skills and tasks that seemed almost impossible - such as movement, stage combat and circus skills. At the age of 25, I was competing against my peers that were on average 4 to 5 years younger me, some having previous skills in gymnastics, dancing and playing musical instruments - with me having the flexibility of a concrete slab, two left feet and never so much as picking up a musical instrument since the recorder in primary school. How we could be fairly graded to an even playing field I’ll never know, but ‘c’est la vie’ - that’s just the way it was. It just so happened that I was so bad at juggling that my circus instructor ended up bribing me by saying he would buy me a new set of juggling balls if I could do a three ball sequence. I never received the juggling balls but, oh boy, I worked hard to be able to juggle! Since graduating I’m proud to say I’ve facilitated stage combat and circus classes and devised and directed a show that used movement instead of language. As a result, I now value everything I was taught even though at the time, especially during my second year, I felt I was drowning.

This brings me back to the woman in the pool, swimming was not easy for her because she obviously had never had lessons as a child, and in turn this created fear and also a fear of failure, which was why she was getting annoyed at her inability to do it. These feelings are detrimental and destroy self confidence. However, I stuck in the race and came out a stronger person for it and not failing. I believe anything can be gained through determination, courage and a little help from our friends. That woman will learn to swim, it will take time and effort, but she will get there – like us all at some stage in our lives, she will stop herself from drowning and feel the benefits of the achievement afterwards.

Since starting at Steps, I have generally loved the new challenges and the opportunity to learn – and over this last month my breast-stroke is getting stronger. I’m not a strong swimmer by any means, but I now feel I’m keeping my head above water; I haven’t drowned and I don't feel like I’m drowning. 


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