28 September 2012

The Benefits of Acquiring a New Skill

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza. 

As someone who has spent some time on this earth, you can probably attest to having gained specialization in the things you do often and repeatedly. You have become proficient at these things, and even mastered some. Yet, with repetition comes routine, and its desensitizing effect. 

We all have our own ways of seeking renewal: a vacation, a home remodeling project, a health regime, or — my personal favorite — learning a new skill. Learning something new changes who you are, how you see yourself.

There is something rare and wonderful about the process of conquering a new motion and mindset. It allows you to be vulnerable; it creates a situation where it is okay to expose your ignorance, to be candid about it and ask questions freely, with the unblushing curiosity of being new to everything.

As adults, we can overlook the importance of exposing our skill set to new challenges. It puts us at risk of forgetting the humbling jolt of experiencing this disconnect between our hand and our head (just try to recall how awkward the pencil felt when you first tried to loop letter shapes, or your fingers' numbness when you were learning to tie your shoes!)

On the other hand, carving time from our schedule to willingly expose ourselves to frustration doesn't sound very appetizing. Much easier said than done! I find that to keep this kind of frustration under control, it is helpful to visualize the skills you already have, as if collected in a tool belt, one you don't even have to look at because you know exactly where every tool is. 

Isn't it encouraging to think that these "tools" were arcane puzzles once, and it was you who conquered them?

Acquiring a new skill is rewarding in itself, it can fortify and complement your other skills. It is known to sharpen the mind by establishing new connections within the brain. In addition, having your outlook whisked by a new experience provides fertile new grounds for the creative mind. 

Are you considering taking up any new skills, or going back to perfect something you half-learned in the past?

All illustrations by Anabel Bouza.

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of her husband & a turtle; they're new to the city of Chicago, and they love it. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.