Never Stop Learning

If there is a secret to aging well, and I happen to think there are quite a few, then continuing to learn new skills or continuing to hone the skills that we value is one of the top contenders.

My mother is a prime example of this. Currently 86 years young, she has continued to learn new skills throughout her life. She has played tennis since she was a young adult, and has even been training with a coach for the past several years, trying to improve her serve and strengthen her returns. In her 60s, my mom studied ballroom dance for a stretch of many years, even traveling to competitions and earning a slew of trophies. She has never let her age stop her from learning and mastering anything of interest to her.

In order to keep trying new things, it is vital that we can allow ourselves to look silly. The fear of falling on our faces can prevent us from having all kinds of excellent experiences. And it is impossible to ever learn anything or get good at anything without sucking to begin with. Did my mother look like an idiot in her first ballroom dance class? Probably. Did she run home crying and never show up again? Nope, she kept on tripping over her partner's feet until she figured out the steps.

Does your ego stop you from attempting to learn new things? I'm afraid mine might. If you're one of those people (like me) who always need to excel at everything, your ego could possibly be a tad bit fragile. If so, you probably have your "safe" activities: the ones where you're confident of success, or at least not hideous and abject failure. For me, dance is my safety zone. But I'm not very adventurous outside of the dance studio. I would love to be able to sing well, but my fear of hitting the wrong pitch will never allow me to take a voice lesson. I'd love to be able to play an instrument--any instrument would do!--but my fingers are nowhere near as nimble as they once were, and I'm afraid of the mess I'd make of it.

One of my mantras these days is: I still have a lot left to learn. I never want to forget that life is chock-full of opportunities to grow and change and improve. I can still become a better cook. My body can still become stronger if I work hard. My gardening skills leave a lot to be desired. I can be a better teacher, friend, wife, mother, and daughter if I put in the effort. My jokes often fall flat, so my stand-up comedy still needs work. And in terms of my writing, I'm still in the early stages of development with tons of room to grow.

So I hope, as we grow older together, we can all keep on learning and becoming better. There is no need to throw in the towel. Let's keep climbing instead!