In several martial arts practices, the white belt is given to the novice. The person who is just beginning their journey gets the symbol with no color to it. Mostly this is not an issue because the beginner is often a child who does not get overly concerned with status. A lack of knowledge or prestige is not a problem. It is a matter of fact. However adults tend to not want to be white belts. Not just in martial arts but in anything. They avoid the new and difficult in favor of the known and simple. It is an exercise in ego protection rather than a strategy for growth and fulfillment.
So many of the forces in our lives are counterproductive to our progress as people. Although things like friends, family, education, culture, etc. should be forces on the side of our self-actualization; they tend to come with the baggage of expectation and comparison. This tends to thwart our efforts in invisible ways. Our desire to “stay the same”, “not look foolish”, or “get good grades” tend to override our natural inclination toward discovery. Ask any kindergartener about their ability to be president, make a movie, be an astronaut, and their confidence will astound. Adults tend to only be confident when criticizing the performance of others. When faced with their own shortcomings, the subject is quickly swept under the rug.
It’s never been a better time to be a white belt! Why? Because today is all that you get. If you’re not willing to try something new today, tomorrow you’ll be even less likely to go for it. We are creatures of habit and just like anything else avoiding the new and difficult is a routine. It must be broken in order to claim the prizes on the other side of being a beginner. It is hard. It is humbling but it is necessary! So put on your white belt and try something new. At bare minimum, you’ll learn that you’re not perfect and that’s something we all need to remember from time to time.
Beginner and failure are not the same things!