13 October 2015 - 9:15 am

How we lower our expectations on first-times

Everything that has to do with life and experience entails starting and ending coordinates. First day at school/high-school/university, first time to join a society, first time to eat tacos, first football match, first date, first riding-a-bicycle lesson, first step on a foreign soil, first business coaching session, first attempt to strike at bowling. And every first time tends to be witnessed and experienced with consciously lowered expectations.

“This is my first blogpost (frightening)”, “I’ve never played bowling before so I’ll probably miss all the time”, “I will definitely fall”, “I’m not sure if I like it”, “It’s the first time abroad so bear with me, I might not understand”, “I don’t think I’ll get it right in this session, maybe I should keep quiet for the first few times”, “It’s the first time I tried this recipe, so…”. That “so” at the end of “first time” sentences is implicitly saying: “I’m afraid I won’t impress my audience because I don’t have the experience to do it, hence I might as well lower my audience’s expectations so they do not judge my work too hard.”

Scrolling down and browsing through the USE blog, anyone can easily identify the first-blogposts pattern: “OMG, I’ve never written before, I have no idea if I’m writing something totally meaningless, please do not judge me – I am just a beginner.” And implicitly, without the necessity of my decoding, any reader would do just that: they would be lenient, understanding, tolerant to this lowering-expectation process of the first time because they can relate to it. They can relate to the general human fear of not being good enough, the fear to fail in their attempt, the fear of disappointing by not reaching expectations.


First blood donation. Less terrifying than expected. Enjoy your first times.

I, myself, was on the verge of doing the same, of starting my blog by asking people to be considerate to the fact that it’s my first attempt (not in blogging in general, but in blogging in English). But, scrolling through other people’s posts I realised it is of no USE to concentrate on lowering my audience’s expectation. I am not saying, of course, that this is the best I can write, or the peak of my inspiration, but that first-times should not be excused as generally being prone to fail. There is one quote that says: “What if I fail? But, darling, what if you fly?” Maybe first-times should be perceived as an airplane taking off. The first sensation is not a comfortable one, but it’s not negative either. After all, you are going up. And taking into consideration the fact that USE has awesome people on board with whom I’m lucky to work with,I can definitely say that I boarded the “right plane”.

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  • About the author

    Ana-Gabriela Popa

    Ana-Gabriela Popa

    MSc Leadership and Management student at The University of Sheffield. Enterprise Intern. Global Citizen. Feminist. Avid reader. Series binge-watcher. Formerly International Students' Officer at Sheffield Students' Union, Chair of International Students' Committee, Vice-President Marketing at AIESEC Sheffield, Widening Participation Intern at USE. BA International Relations and Politics graduate.