I headed to Target last weekend, with the small goal of avoiding my traditional, depressing, color choices. One new thing, right? Then I saw the skinny jeans (colorful skinny jeans, even better) and thought that maybe I could really push the envelope. It was amazing that they even made it to the dressing room, let alone on my body, because my resistance to skinny jeans is mighty.
I’ll spare you the details, but here’s a public service announcement: all fashion trends aren’t meant for all body types. I promise that this isn’t a body image problem. I’m glad for the body I have, and I think it looks just fine in many other styles. So there’s no need for me to choose skinny jeans as my new thing, when there are many other choices that don’t result in the loss of circulation and pride.
I noticed a parallel in an experience that Sam had this week. We decided to enroll him in a weekly guitar class, as a break from his normal after-school-care situation. It sounded new and exciting and he was all for it. We found a small guitar at a garage sale, and it seemed like the first class went well.
When the second class rolled around, the whole thing started to unravel. On the way into school he bashed the guitar into a wall and was steadily cursing it under his breath, “Stupid guitar. Stupid guitar class. Stupid school.” These are really strong words in our G-rated family! That afternoon he refused to participate in the class, opting to sit, doing nothing for an hour. I think we pushed the new too much, when there were enough new elements for him (grade level, teacher, friends, and routine).
The lesson for me, both from the skinny jeans and the guitar lessons, is that it’s pointless to choose something new just to choose something new. There still has to be a point of resonance with the choices we’re making. There’s the new that activates a giddy feeling of expansiveness and there’s the new that feels forced and constricting. It’s a tricky balance – I get it that sometimes we have to push through initial discomfort with newness, before it becomes a positive force in our lives. It’s hard for me to tell how much discomfort is worthwhile.
For us right now, I think it’s okay to leave the skinny jeans and the guitars to those who will really rock them. I walked away from my shopping trip with some brighter t-shirts and Sam is considering taking up drumming.
How do you figure out which new ideas are worth embracing? When you push away the new, is it because you truly don’t want it or is it because you’re afraid?