How to Kick a Ball (aka: Such a Newb)

  Newbie noun, often attributive \ˈnü-bē, ˈnyü-\

: a person who has recently started a particular activity

: newcomer; especially: a newcomer to cyberspace (Merriam-Webster)


(For starters, let’s get one thing straight – a newb is not the same as a n00b. A newb is a novice who is just trying to figure out how to do something new. A n00b (or noob) is an airhead who does stupid things, doesn’t want to improve and is pretty much hopeless. I am writing about being a newb — not a n00b. Got it?) hello I am clueless

I hate being a newb. It is probably deep-wired in my personality, but I cannot stand being a clueless beginner. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like to learn. I love to learn. I just don’t like being in that insecure, I-Don’t-Know-What-the-Hell-I’m-Doing phase for very long. Call me competitive. Call me a perfectionist. Call me whatever you like (just not a n00b). But if it were up to me, then I would skip lesson A of everything in life and fast-forward to the advanced level. Some of us were made to play hard ball, not tee-ball.

Unfortunately, we all have moments throughout our lives in which we have to suffer through the newb stage. Sometimes we get through that beginning stage quickly, and are soon happily coasting along without the training wheels. Other times, we feel as though we’ll never master the skills we need to advance out of Kindergarten. At the moment, I am a newb in far too many ways for my comfort.

Newb Techie: Such a newb, that I’m not even sure what to call myself when people ask. I’m a computer science student. I am an intern who works with computers (database and tech support stuff) in a cubicle jungle. I love what I’m learning, but I’m still at the bottom of the totem pole (or perhaps the lowest level of the OSI model?).

Newbie Single Person: Do you know that before a year ago, I was never a single adult? It’s true. I met my ex husband when I had just turned 19 years old. We were married soon after I turned 21. I have spent my entire adult life as a (very unhappily) married person. Now, I am learning how to be a happily single person, which is fun and liberating and cool in many ways, but scary in others (aka — the dating thing). It’s kind of like learning to be an adult all over again. I do not, however, feel like a newb as a single mom. That part’s pretty easy, as most of the parenting fell to me back when I was still married.


No, I cannot bend it like Beckham. I’m still learning how to kick the ball well.

Newbie Jock: Heehee…okay, maybe not a jock. But I have been working on getting in good physical shape and honing my ahtletic skills for the past several years. The problem is, I am not very good at consistency, and my stamina is lousy. Maybe that is why people hire personal trainers? While that’s out of the question, I have been trying something new this summer — a series of outdoor soccer skills workshops for women. It has been so much fun, and I have learned so many great things that I did not know before, like how to kick a ball with your laces. (Ohhh, so that’s how people get the ball to travel more than a few yards!). Next, I’m really hoping to learn how to do things like step-overs and scissors (which I have done by accident during games, but still don’t know how I did it). I know, I know — what a newb!

Take Chances make mistakes get messy As much as I detest being a newb, I know that everyone has to begin somewhere. You can’t just jump into a swimming pool without a few lessons, or all you’ll do is sink. It’s also not a good idea to avoid trying new activities simply because you don’t care for the newbie stage. To quote Ms. Frizzle (because Ms. Frizzle was awesome): Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes! Sometimes, it is okay to be a newb (not a n00b). The newbie stage is like stepping onto the Golden Gate Bridge from the Sausalito side. It’s weird, and scary, and you’re up so high that you feel like you’ll fall. But you have to keep moving forward if you ever want to reach San Francisco. (Okay, sorry — that was such a newb analogy 🙂 )

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Sail away from safe harbors

It was one of my favorite quotes from an author whose literature I greatly admire. Explore. Dream. Discover. And so I did. At least, to an extent. I rappelled down the face of a cliff. I stood at the feet of the Statue of Liberty and watched a real Broadway musical on Broadway. I tasted the salty breezes of two different oceans, watched the eruption of Old Faithful, and threw stones into the Grand Canyon (because, why not?). I explored. I dreamed. I discovered.

I used to live life in fast forward, arms spread wide, mouth open, waiting to taste whatever new adventures the universe had to offer. I sometimes think that is why I rushed through university so quickly and married so young. I wanted to know what it was like to be finished with school. I was eager to experience life as a married woman (and, of course, the great sex and intimacy that was supposed to come with it. Haha – funny joke, universe). I was eager to try new foods and hear new music and travel to interesting places. I was eager to experience every good thing life had to offer – to explore, to dream, to discover.

I lost that hunger. Somewhere in the midst of an unhappy, abusive marriage, and broken friendships, and lonely, gray years of emptiness, that vision slipped away. Explore? But the world, once as vibrant and inviting as the Land of Oz, now seemed cold and hostile. Dream? I lost the ability to dream beyond rewinding the clock and fixing broken things. Discover? What remained to be discovered? I had traveled to the end of the rainbow, but instead of gold, I had found stones. And that fire that once burned bright within my spirit had gone out.

And so, I shifted focus. After all, I am a mother of three terrific kids. And they do not yet know that there are only stones at the end of the rainbow. So I live my life for them. I get out of bed every day for them. I go to school and work for them, so that I can provide for their needs. I plan adventures for them, because they have not yet swum in both oceans, or visited New York City, or climbed actual mountains. I am happy to do these things for them, because it allows me to ignore the gnawing, lonely emptiness inside of me. But I know that it is not sufficient. I know that I will never be content until that fire burns inside of me once again, urging me to really live…to stop standing still like a zombie and start to explore. To dream. To discover.

I mentioned recently that I have been Cheering Sports Fans in a Bartrying new things. Because maybe that is what it takes to re-light a fire that went cold years ago. So far, I have had little success. And in fact, just today, because I had never been to a bar, and had never watched a soccer game with a big group of other soccer-loving fans, I forced myself out of the house and into a large bar downtown to watch the USA vs. Portugal World Cup soccer game. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a huge mistake. The bar was absolutely packed with adoring, cheering fans. I stood among the beer-guzzling crowd, feeling out-of-place and very awkward. Not to mention thirsty. How on earth are you supposed to get something to drink in a bar…shove your way up front and yell “Diet Pepsi please!” over the din? And do they even sell Diet Pepsi? Luckily, I found a (waitress?) to ask, and she very kindly brought me a Pepsi (not Diet, but who cares?) for free. So I quietly sipped my soda and watched the game in silence, while imagining myself with a group of soccer-loving friends, guzzling beers and yelling at the TV screen. Together. (Does that count as dreaming?)

I went home at halftime.

But still, I explored. And I discovered what a bar is like. Sort of. So I don’t have to do that ever again. One teeny-tiny, wobbly baby step into a world that feels so enormous and so scary. Watching a soccer game alone in a crowded bar sucked. Seriously. But now, twenty years from now, I don’t have to look back and be disappointed that I didn’t even try.