Last Saturday I convinced my roommate to join me for a drop-in “beginners" hip hop class. I put “beginners" in quotation marks because our definition of beginner looked very different from the rest of the participants in the class.
It became clear during the first 8-count that the road ahead was not going to be pretty - and I had a mirror staring back at me to remind me of that in real-time. But through the course of attempting moves that I can only hope to achieve by the end of my lifetime, I realized something: the perks of being an amateur.
It had been awhile since I had put myself in an environment where I had to let go of all reservations and just go for it - where I had set my ego on the shelf because there was NO way I was going to fake my way through the class. I’ve faked my way through a lot of things, but hip hop is not one of them. Putting my ego in its rightful place was one of the most liberating feelings I’ve experienced. This is perk #1 of being an amateur.
I laughed at myself as I continued to attempt each move and began to marvel not only at the expertise of the teacher but at the students around me. Every time I've tried something new, transitioning from a passive audience member to a participant, my admiration for those with expertise skyrockets: from listening to my German tutor speak fluently and fluidly, to watching my friend Jared DJ, to engaging in a sweaty afternoon at a dance studio while the teacher shows us how it’s done. This is perk #2 of being an amateur.
Last, but not least, perk #3 of being an amateur (the selfish perk): you just might be good at it. Everyone starts off as an amateur - even Olympians. I’m not saying I’m going to be a hip hop dancer (although in another life with a different body I would be). I’m also not saying you have to be good at something to enjoy it. But it is pretty awesome to enjoy something that you are good at - and you’ll never find those things if you don’t give them a go.
So, next time you find yourself starting from square one - whether in a classroom, on a stage, in a studio, on a court, or in the woods - just remember the perks of being an amateur. (It’s much less depressing than the perks of being a wallflower, anyway).