How often do we find ourselves shying away from technology because learning everything we need to know seems too daunting? Whenever I’m trying to pick up something new, I want to be an expert right away. I want to be the best without the journey of stumbling and failing my way through the learning process. But as I’ve discovered throughout the years, you cannot be an expert without starting as a beginner.
I think the reason we shy away from learning something new is because we’re embarrassed or ashamed of not knowing what to do. Failing as we learn can make our self-esteem plummet, making us feel temporarily stupid. I struggled with this feeling for longer than I care to admit. It wasn’t until I accepted the fact that to get good at something, I was going to have to be really bad at it for a little while. I gave myself permission to be completely horrible at whatever new technology I was learning.
Take Instagram. When it first came out, it was a brand new social media platform for me and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of it. There was a lot to learn with how to post your pictures, how to edit pictures, and how to comment and like other posts. It seems like every day new features are released, like stories and filters. All the features make my Instagram experience super fun, but I felt like an idiot not understanding how other people we using it and why I wasn’t getting the same outcome as them.
So what did I do? I embraced being bad at it! I laughed at myself while I tried all the filters, making funny faces at completely unflattering angles. I clicked on everything over and over again to get comfortable with what each feature does and how to use it. Best of all, if I messed up or posted something I didn’t like, I could just delete it.
For those of you at the beginning stages of learning new technology, whether it’s an app, figuring out how to email, or using a computer, here are some helpful tips to guide you along the way:
- Set some time aside each day to play around with the technology you want to learn. The more time you spend on it, the more comfortable you’ll get.
- Make mistakes!
- MAKE MORE MISTAKES!
- Seriously, making mistakes is a good thing!
- Redefine failure. Failure means you’re learning. You’re showing up and improving your skills through trial-and-error.
- Ask questions! Keep asking questions even if they’re the same one. Sometimes it takes a while for something to sink in and the information to stick in your mind.
- Have fun! It’s not every day we get to learn something new. Look at little kids when they learn. They have fun doing the activity no matter what. Put less expectations on yourself and enjoy the experience.
We all come to technology at various levels, but remember, at one point we were all beginners. So give yourself permission to be really bad at something for a little while. Be kind to yourself as you make mistakes and become more comfortable with technology.
That said, if you still have questions or want a little more guidance, stop by the Technology Desk in the lower level of the library. We have librarians and staff who can help with pretty much any question you have! If you require more assistance, we can direct you to a plethora of resources and classes offered at the Niles Library.