Ever since the “Life is like a bowl of bananas” analogy hit me like a ton of bricks, I’ve been thinking. (I know, scary.) I’ve been thinking about other reasons we raise the white flag to our bucket lists…
I look at my precious daughter and I see how sweet and innocent life is to her.
When I tell her that she can do something, she trusts me. Then, she does it.
When I reach out to her and tell her how proud I am of her accomplishments, she believes me. It gives her encouragement for her next challenge.
When I snuggle with her on the couch and tell her that I’ll always be her cheerleader, she smiles and says, “OK, Mommy. Tanks.” (Translation: Thanks … she’s two.) She knows I will always be at her side cheering her on.
She’s a clean slate. She trusts, believes and goes about her day without a doubt in her heart. She tries new things. She’s adventurous. She doesn’t let anything get in her way.
So, at what point in our lives did we learn we can’t reach our dreams? Who taught us that? Did we teach it to ourselves?
I’m sure the answers to these questions will vary drastically between each of us. To be honest, I’ve had a hard time answering them myself. I have very encouraging parents who believed in my dreams…and they still do. Sure, I was picked on as a kid like anyone else. In many ways, that fueled me to strive harder at my goals, be kinder to others and even try to understand the instigators.
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to find answers.
And then it hit me…
I’ve shared this story with maybe a handful of people. It’s really not a dramatic event. It’s nothing most people would think twice about, but it’s something that I have carried in my mind for years and years.
I’m pretty sure I was around five or six years old. It was after school and blistering hot. In our Texas neighborhood, that meant there were children running amuck outside. Building clubhouses out of scrap wood. Riding bikes up and down long driveways. Playing Dukes of Hazzard with friends. (I always played Daisy.)
On this particular late muggy afternoon, the ice cream man’s chime could be heard lofting from a street behind our house. Everyone stopped what they were doing, ran quickly in their houses, gathered pocket change and then darted at warp speed towards the truck’s melody. I ran inside, begged Mom permission to buy a piece of frozen heaven, received her approval then ran to my room for my little coin purse. It was filled with gobs of nickels, dimes and pennies.
I wasn’t much of a sprinter, so I was the last one to make it to the truck. I tried not to pant like a tired old dog, but I was out of breath. I had no clue what I was going to get. The choices seemed overwhelming. I didn’t want to spend my life savings on something I didn’t like. I went over the list… over and over and over…all the while panic rushed over me. I had to make a decision now.
He asked, “What would you like today?”
I was so excited to get something on my own, but I instantly felt beyond embarrassed. I wanted to cry. I held back tears.
He asked a few times if I was sure. He was confused. What kid rushes to the ice cream man with money in hand and doesn’t buy anything?
I realized I didn’t know how to count my money. I was embarrassed. So embarrassed. I didn’t even want to ask for his help. He would think I was dumb. I, for sure, wasn’t about to ask any of the other kids. They would laugh. They’d think I was stupid.
I was just a little kid.
Right then and there, I “learned” to be embarrassed. I learned to be ashamed that I didn’t know how to do something that, at the time, meant so much to me. Ever since then, I’ve often felt the same rush of emotion when embarking on a new adventure…a new dream.
I can honestly say that the fear of embarrassment has always far outweighed my fear of failure. Everyone fails from time to time. Nobody can win at everything. My embarrassment comes from the possibility that others would think I was crazy to dream so big or the lack of ability to reach the finish line in a race that never should have been run.
As if there would be crowds of people pointing and laughing at me? Well, you never know.
Perhaps prior to this event someone laughed at me when I tried my best at another challenge. Probably. I was a kid. It’s what kids do to each other. Maybe that’s where I learned to be embarrassed, but sad is the day when I can’t brush that off as an adult.
I’ll tell you what…I’m not too ashamed to ask for help this time around. I’m running to the finish line (in heels, of course) with my little bag of coins in hand and I’ll gladly ask the ice cream man anyone for the answers I’ll need along the way.
©2010 Melody G. Fritchley