Why is learning new things more scary as an adult?

Meme taken from Twitter account @AlexisH38538082

I remember when I was a kid and out would come some new activity I’d never tried before and all I’d be able to think about was how fabulous I was going to be at it! Whereas today, being asked to partake in any activity outside my comfort zone brings with it a feeling that can only be described as terror! Why is that?

Well, research into fear around trying new things found some sad results. These include results from Carnegie Mellon University anthropologist Lauren Herckis, who found higher education professionals teaching innovation and entrepreneurship were afraid to look awkward, foolish or incompetent in front of students, and thus play it ‘safe’. This evidently dates back to when micro-computers were introduced and faculty were used to computers the size of a living room…

But if University faculty teaching innovation are afraid to try new things, how can we expect the rest of us to just jump right in? And what’s happening that’s causing this fear?

Our brains are complicated little things aren’t they? And our ‘comfort zones’ are really just pathways in our brains we’ve used many times before. Ever heard the phrase ‘use it or lose it’? Well neuroplasticity is well established in the scientific literature and goes a long way in explaining our fear of trying new things. When we are children, we’re making new neurons at a rate of knots – meaning it’s much easier to learn all kinds of new things! This is why kids can pick up new languages so easily. Later on though, only what we’re used to doing doesn’t elicit the fear response, but new things….they absolutely do.

So, just remember, next time you feel afraid to try something new, it’s just your brain hardware struggling to use new software – and that if you can overcome your fear of feeling awkward, foolish and incompetent in front of others, you’re arguably doing better than an innovation professor!

Embedding practice below lol

Published by Alexis Howell

I'm an MBA graduate and longtime small business owner who is transitioning into blogging and podcasting. Pray for me yeah? I'm based in Sydney, Australia. I'm into writing, boxing, plant based food, songwriting, talking, meditation and reviewing online purchases.

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