Tiara, Get Out of the Way

By: Tiara Menjivar

I was completely surrounded. 
They were everywhere… and they were loud.

Amidst all the singing and dancing of the children at Dreamland Orphanage, there was a particular group that caught my eye… and ears. There was a small group of four boys playing some ari drums. I watched their small hands move so fast, beating out rhythms. I felt drawn to the beat and their infectious energy. As my curiosity led me over to the boys, I wondered if they’d be willing to teach me, and if they’d laugh at my beginner skills as a drummer…

There’s something I’ve been struggling with lately.

I’m here in Africa, with a creative team that’s on a mission to create something beautiful, meaningful, and impactful. It’s my first time doing something like this, and I knew coming on this journey would be a huge learning process. 
Yet, I find myself hesitating… I haven’t pulled out my camera in fear of not being good enough, not measuring up to expectations, not really feeling creative or inspired. Oddly enough, these expectations only come from myself, not my creative comrades who have so much grace and patience.

The truth is : I’m a beginner.

As a child, I don’t remember having any qualms about being a beginner, but somewhere along the way I took pride in being a know-it-all, an expert, a master. Starting a new craft and acquiring new skills and calling myself a “beginner” is not easy anymore. When did I stop? When was I shamed? When did I decide that being a beginner at learning a thing was bad? Why am I so embarrassed to admit that I don’t know? That I need help? What am I afraid of? Judgement? Failure? Not learning quickly? 

As I step into new places that require new skills, waves of insecurities inevitably rise up, and I hesitate. Sometimes it even paralyzes me. And when I take a step back to consider how I limit myself in this manner, I ask “Who says so? Who says I’m supposed to know it all? Who says I should be at 100%, I should have it all figured out?” 

I value learning, in fact, I believe it’s one of my top strengths, but there’s this weird paradox that comes with my strengths. My strengths can also be my weaknesses. I love to learn, yet I judge myself so harshly for not knowing or learning fast enough. I myself am my own greatest obstacle when it comes to being a beginner.

Learning something new is a journey into unknown territory (it sounds like an adventure!)… and it’s ok to be nervous, unsure; I’m still learning to laugh at myself as I miss a beat, come in too early, miss a step… whatever. Continue on.


I sat down next to the boys and asked them to teach me how to play the drums. They gleefully grabbed my hands and patiently took me on an impromptu rhythmic adventure. I was soon surrounded by eager boys and girls who showed me I would not suffer any shortage of drum teachers. 

We were all beginners once and we can be beginners again… and again… and again.


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