This is not my first blog. In fact, I have had quite a few over the years. But I never kept up with them for more than a month or two at a time. Along with the urge to start blogging again comes the guilt I feel for all the ones I’ve neglected or abandoned. So, I always talk myself out of starting a new one. I think that same line of thinking is a pattern many of us can fall into when considering making changes or trying new things. We don’t allow ourselves to change now because we couldn’t change something else before. And every new failure makes us more afraid. We stop trusting ourselves.
I am in my early thirties, and it has taken me this long to even begin to feel like I understand who I am. I am only just now understanding my roots. I am a feminist, mother, a partner to my husband, and an artist. I believe we should live our lives with some kind of purpose that is bigger than ourselves. We should help others. And we should try to do the least amount of harm possible to those around us and the environment. Those roots look different at different times though. Sometimes I am playing with tarot cards and making our own cleaning products. Other times I am begging my husband to live in a tent with me while we build our own self-sustaining farm house. And sometimes I’m stalking vintage Chanel on Ebay and practicing my French.
“I am rooted, but I flow.” -Virginia Woolf
I have found my roots, but I have had to accept that I also change and flow. Once we think we know who we are, it’s easy to become too stiff and rigid in our ways. We were either born with a certainty of who we are, or we spend huge chunks of our lives figuring it out. Then we finally find it and we’re supposed to accept that it continues to change for the rest of our lives? That can be a frustrating reality to face.
Recently, I stumbled upon the term “neophiliac.” A neophiliac is a person addicted to newness – the novelty of new things. I began to think about how many things I have started and never finished. How many new year’s resolutions I never kept. How many goals I had never achieved. All the times I swore I had it all figured out, but changed my mind a few months later. I could never seem to find truly lasting change, or stay in the same place long enough to figure out who I was. I loved how it felt to start something new or reinvent myself, but it never seemed to last. I always quit, gave up, walked away, changed my mind. I began to wonder – what if I am a neophiliac?
I have definitely met my fair share of neophobes. They are the ones who are afraid to try new things. In A Beginner’s Guide to Trying New Things, Jessica Larsen explains that our fear of trying new things comes from our fear of being a beginner at something. “If we’re not prepared to start out as a beginner, we are limiting ourselves to a very small selection of things that we have a natural affinity for,” she states. We fear being bad at things. We fear looking stupid or foolish. But how else can we learn anything new? How else can we continue evolving, improving, and becoming better people?
Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. addresses the 4 facets of novelty seeking behavior, aka neophilism, in this Psychology Today article. The following scale helps you determine if you are a neophiliac or a neophobe.
1.Exploratory excitability – High scorer: You are always ready to explore new situations and, in fact, find it highly rewarding to do so.
Low scorer: You prefer to stick to the tried and true even if it means you miss out on some opportunities.
2. Impulsiveness: High scorer: You make decisions quickly without necessarily considering all the consequences.
Low scorer: Before making a decision, you reflect on the pros and cons.
3. Extravagance: High scorer: You are ready to spend money in order to obtain the rewards you desire.
Low scorer: You are reserved and tend to hold out on spending money.
4. Disorderliness: High scorer: You are spontaneous and don’t like to be hemmed in by rules and regulations.
Low scorer: You are regimented and tend to stick to a certain routine.
She concludes by talking about balance. Of course, with all things, the healthiest thing you can do is find a balance. You shouldn’t be completely opposed to trying new things. You also shouldn’t seek out novelty to the point of putting your health at risk. Or failing to establish healthy habits and routines.
So, to blog or not to blog? I want to write about things that I am learning about and changes I have made, but who am I to write about those things? Shouldn’t I leave that to the experts who have been doing these things for their entire lives? Should I encourage people to do something I myself have only been doing for a few months? Should I be advising people about anything when I am the queen of setting goals and making changes, only to give up and revert back to my old ways a few weeks later?
When it comes to my place on the scale of novelty seeking – I am highly reward motivated. I feel very rewarded when I first try something new, but as the newness wears off so does the reward in some ways. The ironic part is the real rewards from lifestyle changes often don’t come until the newness of it is long gone. So how do those of us who seek the feeling of reward and newness make lasting change in our lives?
As I grappled with the decision of starting this, I stumbled upon this word: Neophyte. In greek “neophytos” means newly planted. A neophyte is someone who , afraid or not, is simply trying something new. This one felt right. By embracing this term I am accepting that no matter how rooted I am, I am always flowing. No matter how much of an expert or novice I am at something, there is always more to learn. But most of all, I am newly planted. I have fully realized my roots and am committing to them without excuse for the first time. But I am also accepting that this is a new confidence and there is a room to grow. It is a strange balance between becoming someone new and accepting who I have always been. Even though I have always been this person, this is the first time I am fully giving myself permission to be me.
Maybe this blog will help me to stay accountable in my own changes for once, and why shouldn’t I write about that journey? Even if I fail, I am sure someone else out there has too. And for as little as I know, there is someone who knows even less. And of course, someone who knows more. Maybe they will help! Why do I have to be an expert or have it all figured out to write anything? In that line of thinking, no humble, down-to-earth person would ever pick up a brush or start a new job or cook a new food. We all have to start somewhere. And that is the story I should share, if for no other reason than I feel like sharing it.
Hopefully this blog will keep me accountable in my quest for lasting change. And help me express the person I am finally allowing myself to be. I don’t intend to look perfect while doing it. I am an artist, so I do very much appreciate a beautiful Instagram. But my life is not a beautiful Instagram, and I plan to talk about that a lot and show you something real. Because that’s my life, and I have learned to love all its imperfections, as I hope you do with yours. We’re all just doing the best we can, and that looks different for everyone. I accept that I am not always going to know what I am talking about as I learn. But the beauty of the internet is that it helps us connect. So all of you out there reading this who do know more than me can share your wisdom! What I do promise is honesty – with myself and those of you taking the time to read this.
Do you empathize with the feelings of a neophile or a neophobe? Do you feel like you have found your roots? Are you comfortable with changing and flowing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I hope we can all be content with our place in our journey while also being eager to learn more and open to change.
So, here I am. I am rooted, but I flow. I am newly planted in my old soul. Ready to see where this goes. Thanks for joining me.