Freakin’ First Times

In our episode Living Your Values: Showing Up for Yourself, we talked about finding new things we can do to prioritize ourselves. And while Jensie seems to have harnessed this as a superpower, trying new things can give me stress hives. So I wanted to share a concept that I stumbled across two years ago (conveniently timed around the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic) that has helped me wrestle through starting new endeavors: FFTs.

A Freaking First Time (or FFT) is a concept coined by, you guessed it, Brené Brown. You can listen to her podcast about it here. Simply put, it’s a term to describe the feeling you experience when you go through something for the first time. I know, I know. Absolutely revolutionary. But let me tell you why I think FFTs matter and the process Brené outlined that has helped me work through them.

When we do things for the first time, there are a lot of feelings we can wrestle with: excitement, fear, shame, nervousness, anticipation, and anxiety. We might come down with a case of the “what-ifs.” What if I fail? What if I embarrass myself? What if I show up at the wrong time? What if I go to the wrong room? What if I don’t make any friends there? What if I put my whole heart and soul into this and no one loves it as much as I do? What if? What if? What if? And if we’re not careful, these feelings can paralyze us and prevent us from moving forward. Not just in finding fun new things to do, but in any area of our life where we might have to try something new.

My bestie (AKA the friend who dragged me along) and me during an FFT at my work’s softball game.

In her podcast, Brené proposes the following formula for working through an FFT.

  1. Name the FFT.
  2. Feel the feels.
  3. Keep trying.

Name the FFT

Say it. Out loud. (Yes that is a Twilight reference.)

By calling out an FFT for what it is, we disarm it. We remove its power. We acknowledge that it’s there and we announce that these feelings aren’t actually feelings of self-doubt, rather feelings around trying something for the first time. The more we do this, the more normal it becomes. We’ll get used to giving ourselves the permission we often give others to try something for the first time without fear of judgment or failure.

Naming an FFT can also help us manage our expectations. Just like we wouldn’t expect a toddler to walk their first time trying, we too shouldn’t expect ourselves to magically get everything right or perfect the first time. Calling it like it is allows us to step into a growth mindset and start where we are: the beginning.

Feel the Feels

Anyone else have a hard time naming and feeling their feelings? Just me?

FFTs are awkward and uncomfortable. No one likes feeling awkward and uncomfortable! Give yourself a little space to feel those feelings. They, like all others, will pass. But only if we allow ourselves to feel them.

Keep Trying

Don’t stop, don’t give up! Don’t stop, don’t give up! Remember this YouTube video? I sing this to myself at least once a week.

As Jensie mentioned in the podcast episode, start small. Give yourself some small wins early and often. Don’t expect to change everything all at once.

You won’t be perfect, you may not even be good. But move forward. Give it a try. You may find something that you love, something that brings you joy and fills your cup in a way you didn’t even know was possible.

If you’re interested in a webinar I did on this topic when I was at the University of Florida, you can check it out here!