Agree on the larger size hook for the beginning chain. That’s a trick you’ll learn and use over and over again. My students typically have the hardest time with that beginning chain and going back into it with the foundation chain.
Also, if you are wrapping the yarn around your pinky while you crochet, try not doing that, but instead just putting it over the pinky finger and not around. That’s another mistake I see new crocheters make alot… you need that tension when your crocheting smaller thread that has to be tighter to see a pattern (doilies for example) … but if your tension is too tight with regular yarn then release that wrap and see if the yarn will flow a bit easier.
Remember… the yarn should flow through your fingers, across your hook and become something beautiful. If you’re fighting with it because it’s too tight (or too loose!) then something is wrong and needs to be corrected. It sounds like you’re doing a great job though… it takes practice and perseverance to get that tension exactly right just like with knitting. Hang in there!