My motorcycle journey continues as I’ve finally finished acquiring all of my basic safety gear. I have spent hours researching armor and agonizing over materials choices. Spare time has meant visiting Revzilla to pick brains and try on clothes, not to mention scouring websites for reviews and “how to ride” information. With how new I am to this world, I’m being forcefully reminded of what it’s like to be a rank beginner – and it’s not all bad.
One of the best parts of being a complete novice is that it comes with permission to be ignorant about the topic. Nobody likes to admit that they are because it sounds awful, but being ignorant isn’t a bad thing. It simply means that you don’t know anything about it yet. You can ask lots of questions and get lots of help. While there are always some folks who have sour grapes, most people are excited that someone is interested in what they’re interested in. When you show up admitting your lack of knowledge, they’ll only be too happy to fill you in on everything you want to learn and them some.
Obviously, this is an opportunity to soak up every detail you can get, so you don’t remain ignorant long. In today’s environment with the Internet and other resources everywhere, just about anyone can learn just about anything if they want to. You might not become an expert, but you can probably become a pretty well-educated amateur with some time and dedication, maybe a bit of cash (though there are an awful lot of free and cheap resources in many fields if you look hard). Going through the process is a neat way to remember that ignorance is not a necessary end state, just a starting point full of opportunity. It’s also a reminder that we all start there whenever it comes to any new thing in our lives, and that’s okay. We can be humble and willing to learn, and at the same time empathetic and encouraging of new people where we are experienced.
Being fresh to the scene also means you get to enjoy another super fun part, the part I started out with: buying gear. You can certainly get hooked on gear shopping for however long you stick with a hobby, but there’s nothing quite like that first round of getting everything new. Whether it’s protective gear for motorcycling, needles and yarn for knitting, or anything in between, day one shopping is always extra exciting because it’s an entirely unknown world. Nerve wracking, perhaps, because you can’t be sure if you’re getting the right things, which is why you’ll find yourself reading so many buyer’s guides and return policies. Besides that though? It’s a doorway into a whole new realm of retail therapy.
It’s just important to remember that gear isn’t everything. For new learners in particular, there are often so many recommendations for various bits and pieces that are “necessary” or “invaluable” to enjoying the learning experience. It’s overwhelming to walk into a store dedicated to your new area of interest, with a shopping list as long as your arm and the sticker shock to go with it. It’s also tempting to think that if you buy all of the right stuff, everything else will go well. There’s something to the idea of buying your way out of certain beginner frustrations that can come from fighting your equipment, but ultimately, you have to put in the work to learn the skills that go with your new area of interest. You can’t buy time in the saddle or whatever the equivalent is in what you’re learning to do. But you can still have fun shopping.
Turns out that being brand new is actually pretty awesome. Sometimes it’s scary because you’re stepping in to the unknown, but the rest of the time? It’s the grand adventure of exploring a fresh frontier. Which one are you going to discover next?