The joy, humility—and beauty—of a lifetime of new beginnings

At 28, I used to be older than most of the opposite college students in magnificence college when lessons began. A number of women had simply graduated highschool, others already labored in salons. After which there have been a few like me, individuals in search of a completely different solution to make a residing. I attempted being an actor in New York Metropolis for eight years, to no avail. I discovered myself caught within the dream machine, feeding cash to the shady trade that dangled imprecise guarantees of success in entrance of hopeful actors like a carrot. 

The first day, we acquired our kits—two model heads, a set of plastic rollers, low-cost scissors, a comb, a brush, and a jar of Queen Helene inexperienced gel. There was a smock with the college acronym, LIBS, and a chopping cape—every thing a newbie at magnificence college would possibly want. The trainer, Ms. Evalyn, mentioned in her Staten Island accent: “Should you end this course you’ll by no means be with out 5 {dollars} in your pocket.” To this present day, I’ve discovered this to be true. I completed the course. I earned my license. And I don’t suppose I’ve ever been with out sufficient scratch to purchase myself, or another person, a cup of espresso. 

Studying methods to study

I didn’t really feel it on the time as I suffered by getting misplaced in a haircut on the college’s salon ground or lumbering by a poodle perm, however taking the possibility on magnificence college not solely modified the trajectory of my life. It allowed me the house to be as uncomfortable and dangerous as I wanted to be as I launched into studying a talent I had no expertise for and no earthly concept of methods to even begin. But it surely did current the instruments I wanted to learn to study. Every new step launched a new problem and with every new problem, I discovered myself a perpetual newbie once more, caught in an limitless loop of pushing ahead and circling again. Each lengthy journey was comprised of a collection of mini-journeys reliant on my willingness to hear not solely to my human lecturers, but in addition the supplies I used to be working with, who have been the true lecturers. 


The advantages of the newbie’s thoughts are properly documented. The absence of expectation is a boon to the human expertise, an open thoughts is essential. However other than all that, being a perpetual newbie has different advantages as properly. A life of studying retains issues recent. The connections between disparate concepts and abilities turn into obvious. And when a hopeful starting ends in abject failure, because it did after I earned my bike license, regardless of driving a scooter into a ditch, one not solely learns about the advantages of failure, however that a complete new starting lies in wait.

Some beginnings are easy. Studying to bake bread. Mountain climbing Maine mountains. Studying a ebook in a style you’ve by no means learn earlier than. Some are extra advanced. Adopting a pet. Studying to drive. Getting married. Beginning a new career. And different new beginnings are thrust upon us—the occasions in life when a individual doesn’t select the newbie’s path, the trail chooses them. The new expertise of having a baby, for example. Or ushering a cherished one into dying—the kind of new starting that happens when one thing else ends. What if the follow of starting and of studying can also be follow of humility? What if residing life as a perpetual newbie teaches us to climate the toughest beginnings with a little grace, a little kindness, and possibly, even inside the ache of loss, a tiny, maybe almost invisible, glimmer of hope?

It won’t appear logical however moving into LIBS that first day of lessons launched a chain of occasions, beginnings, endings, and middles that forked like rivers or cracks in glass. It led me to working backstage on Broadway, a complete new world that I explored for over 15 years. Working in theater is one of the only a few locations the place engaged on a completely different job yearly is an asset versus a legal responsibility. Each new present was a new, new starting and required new methods of considering, new methods, new experiments, and new delicate and shocking lecturers. I believe this follow and career of beginnings and endings led me to graduate college, which led me to writing a ebook, which led me right here, writing this text, one other new starting, for I’ve by no means written on being a perpetual newbie earlier than. 

 Ms. Evelyn knew the rating as she led us by unpacking our kits, counting our rollers, and establishing our model heads that first day. In my reminiscence, she had a barely mischievous quirk on the nook of her mouth as she watched us battle to comb our mannequins’ knotted hair. None of us have been good. All of us have been freshmen. This second, she knew, could be the start of issues we by no means noticed coming. 

This New 12 months, dare to turn into a perpetual newbie.  Study a new talent, begin a new interest, choose again up the instrument you performed in highschool. It doesn’t matter when you’re good at it.  You’ll turn into a higher listener…with a extra open-mind…who isn’t afraid of failure. And with these evolutions, you reside and see a brighter life. 

Fiction creator and screenwriter Amy Neswald was awarded the New American Fiction Prize for her debut novel-in-stories, I Know You Love Me, Too (New American Press, October 2021). Her screenplay, The Placeholder, was awarded a finest screenplay award on the Rhode Island Movie Pageant in 2008. She alsoteaches artistic writing on the College of Maine and continues plugging away at her animated brief movies about monster kids.