Today, in the midst of my doom-scrolling, I came across a post that said something along the lines of “If I went back and read the things I’ve written as a beginner, I would probably delete all of it’. Which, fair. Honestly, sometimes I feel like that whenever I see my work from my beginning stages as a writer. Then again, I think about all the people who probably started along the same line. They might not have been very good at the beginning, but they did improve their skills over time because they actually strived to do better.
And it gives so many people hope that they don’t have to be good at something right off the bat because there is always room for improvement as they go along, as long as they want to do better. Sometimes, everyone needs a reminder as simple as that because we are all so prone to losing our direction and forgetting why we started doing something in the first place. It is in times like this we have to remind ourselves that not everyone started out great. Not everyone got a tidal wave of praise for their very first work. Perhaps your first work is what will lay the foundation for your next.
But here is the thing: unlike foundations that are laid for strength, your first work does not need to be absolutely flawless, or grand, even. It is merely the first step you will take in your journey to much bigger and better things. And who knows? Someday, when someone who is just beginning to follow their dreams comes across your humble beginnings, they might have hope that they, too, could make something good out of their dreams. Isn’t that the kind of reassurance everyone looks for?
There is so much in the world that we don’t know of. There is so much skill that we could hone, if we only gave ourselves a chance. But if we never acknowledged the fact that we might have to begin somewhere to go somewhere with our dreams, how are we ever going to brave enough to take that first step? After all, isn’t the first step the most important one you will take? Even if the foundation for your first step isn’t as solid as you would like for it to be, it doesn’t really negate how far you’ve come, does it?
If anything, how far you have come is determined by where you used to be compared to where you are right now. And where you are right now might not be where you wanted for yourself to be, but it is somewhere better than yesterday. Somewhere better and stronger than your first couple of steps. You might not know it, but by acknowledging where you began, you remind yourself and other impressionable minds that it doesn’t matter how small you begin, as long as long as you’re actively trying to do better than yesterday. And, hey, who doesn’t make a couple of mistakes along the way? You can’t go back in time and tell yourselves to do better at the very beginning because that would erase the years of hard work you’ve done to get where you currently are.
And when I say this, I mean it in every single aspect of life. Take it in whatever manner means the best to you. I bet we all started with extremely un-coordinated and squiggly handwriting. Does that mean we didn’t get better over time? Does it mean we’re still writing without any kind of co-ordination? No. But would you scold a 5 year-old version of yourself for that squiggly handwriting? Also no. Because you know that you’ve gotten better and developed over time. You wouldn’t look at your old notes and feel embarrassed by who you were at 5 years because you’ve learnt to do better over time.
Maybe certain mistakes we’ve done in the past cannot be fixed. There’s probably nothing we can do about that. But we have learned to do better, have we not? Then why are we ashamed of the progress we have made? Maybe someone out there thinks that we’re a bad example. Maybe they think that our work is an example of things you’re not supposed to do in the beginning stages of something. Insulting? Maybe. But it’s also a ring of truth. It’s also something that we will have to acknowledge at some point because we want to do better than yesterday.
And progress is something that you might not be able to see immediately, but when you compare the results of your work over a significantly longer period of time, you will realize that you could have done so much better. Think about it like this: if you had to start all over today, with all the knowledge you have gained over the last few-something years, would you or would you not be at an advantage? If you think you’d be at an advantage today, it already means that you’ve made a lot more progress than you had ever hoped to.
So, if you ever feel like going back and deleting, trashing, or removing every single trace of where you began your journey from, remember that someone, someday, might come across where you began and think to themselves that ‘Huh, if they could start here and make it way up there, why can’t I?’ I’m not saying it has to be something huge or inspirational, even. Inspiration comes from the funniest places, as it turns out. No. It could be something as small as writing a story, or painting a picture. Maybe someone can find the inspiration to do better after seeing how small you began.
My whole point is, be very proud of how far you’ve come and have some pride in where you began because you never know what kind of an impression it can make on someone who might look up to you for inspiration. Telling yourself that you no longer want to associate yourself with something not as polished as where you stand right now sends out the message that it isn’t okay to begin small—that it isn’t okay to make mistakes in the beginning. That kind of thinking needs to be left behind because all of us are just trying to do better.
I hope you can acknowledge your humble beginnings today and appreciate the progress you’ve made.