You go out in the world, armed with your trusty wood shield and short sword. Aiming for adventure and to become a hero (or whatever your motivation). You run into a goblin, you fight it and live (barely) after a few more scrapes you suddenly wake up better at fighting, you know more, have new magic. Then you run into an Orc, you fight it and live….barely. and on and on this progression goes. mostly linear with attempts at distraction sometimes provided by feats/powers/abilities/magic/etc.
At first, you can pass it off as “certain creatures are tougher and require more skill” At some point, your dude has to be asking “why, why does this keep happening to meeeeee!” (especially if he is a whiny bitch). Or maybe he goes, “Am I ever going to be a badass? or even good enough?”