Taking longer to learn – and being ok with that

Until recently I was frustrated with myself a lot over the things it takes me longer to learn. I could never keep up in sports classes, even taking noticeably longer to change into gym clothes at school than the other girls. At 24, I still haven’t passed my driving test, whilst my 19 year old brother has already passed his. It has even taken me longer to learn a lot of social norms, such as proper conversation (not just talking incessantly) controlling the volume of my voice, understanding celebrities and fashion sense. I still haven’t got the hang of the last two. But recently I’ve felt a lot better about it, because I proved to myself that it is ok.

I did this, naturally, in a slightly unconventional manner. For the last year and a half I have been learning to do polesport – a little like a combination of poledancing and gymnastics. Many of the moves involve hanging by your legs upside down from a pole, in various different positions. In September, I started level five – usually a five week course. This week, I started it again. I realised fairly early on that I would need ten lessons instead of the usual five, but instead of despairing, I accepted it. In my new class, I have not hidden the fact that I am retaking, and no one has responded negatively. In fact, some have seemed reassured that they aren’t the only ones finding it difficult. Everyone is supportive, and my confidence is only increasing. When I pass this level, it will not be a fluke – I will pass it well, and be confident in my abilities.

I am starting to apply this philosophy everywhere else as well. Because I learned some social things late, I learned more complicated, better versions than I would have aged five or six. Because it’s taken me so long to learn to drive, I will be very confident and competent when I am successful. Taking longer to learn things mean they stick with me better, and that I learn and understand them more thoroughly than I would ever have done by learning them at speed. And ultimately, no one is judging me for taking a little longer. It is okay.

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