While browsing Facebook the other day, I came across a screenshot of a conversation that so very accurately described my childhood.
I have had anxiety for, well forever I guess. As long as I can remember. At times, it was pretty bad. I was the kid afraid to make a mistake. I was the kid afraid the world was going to hurt me, or those I loved. I thought in worst case scenarios. I also was the very smart kid that got excellent grades and never caused trouble. I was the kid that almost always listened, and the idea of breaking a rule was completely foreign. I was also the kid who was terrified to try new things, for I failed at something, than maybe I wouldn’t be thought of as smart anymore, and smart was all I felt I really knew about myself. I thought failure was bad, so I took very few chances trying anything new. New became very scary to me quite honestly.
When I was dating my now husband, I never had met someone who was so very not afraid. He would try anything, and laughed at himself when he screwed up. He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones, and bother literally and figuratively, held my hand when I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. I have grown a lot since I was that scared child. I still have anxiety, but I have also developed a lot of tools to help. I still get scared, but I am slowly trying new things.
My daughter Hailey (8 years old), is much more like her father when it comes to trying new things. She has a lot of self confidence, and doesn’t stick herself in a box. She is dynamic and proud of it. Even though she has a perfectionist streak like me, she also seems to be learning to go with it when things don’t turn out. She took an advanced art workshop last month. She used a wood-burner for the first time, and grabbed the wrong spot and burned her fingers pretty badly. It was a big deal. The next day, I talked with her about it and asked her if it would stop her from trying it again. She said “Well, at least I know what not to do next time. Of course it won’t stop me from trying again. Nothing can stop my art!”. I was shocked and in awe of her courage. If that had happened to me, I probably would have been too afraid to ever try again. But she took it in stride and learned something from it.
I started thinking about all the smaller things that I had still been too afraid to try for fear of failure. I wanted some of that bravery, courage, and self confidence that she shines with. I told Hailey that she has inspired me to be brave. Cooking is one of my passions. I really enjoy being in the kitchen and trying new recipes. I love food. For years, I wouldn’t veer from a recipe until I had tried it many times. Why risk it? Because sometimes something amazing gets made. So I have been allowing myself the creative freedom to throw things together guided by my taste and instincts in the kitchen. I have been giving myself permission to make a mistake and learn from it. It may seem like taking a risk in the kitchen is insignificant, and maybe in the grand scheme of things it is, but it might as well be climbing a huge mountain. I am conquering fear and self doubt.
This weekend I made homemade sushi. I had built this up in my head as big and difficult. Past me would have put it off for years, but instead I took it in small steps. I watched some you tube videos one day. Read some recipes another day. Bought a few things at the store another day. Then I decided I was just going to try. If it didn’t turn out, I could put it all in a bowl and enjoy it. It turned out great. Not perfect, but that is okay. I learned some things for next time too. It was yummy for sure.
So yeah, it starts small. But it matters. I am thankful. Thankful that my kids don’t have to be defined by one characteristic like smart. They can be lots of things, and they can make lots of mistakes. It is okay to do things that scare you.