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“I feel different”

The Princess competed in the first dance competition of the season this past weekend. It’s her first year with a solo. Nerves were high for both of us. She didn’t place – it’s an intense, huge competition, so we didn’t expect much – but she danced beautifully. It was a great experience for her. I didn’t realize how much it would affect her though, until we were driving home from class last night.

“I feel different. I felt like a different person at school today. I’m not the same.” I asked her why. She said she just felt different. She had done something new, something scary, and it had changed her. She says she’s normally the type to wait for people to talk to her, but yesterday, she was initiating conversations and participating a lot more than usual. She felt stronger, more confident. “You are different,” I told her. “You did something new. You won’t be the same after that. It’s part of you now.”

I’ve always been rather shy, and not a fan of doing new things, especially if those new things call attention to myself. Good golly…dance, by yourself, in a theater full of people, some of whom are judges? No thanks. It’s easy to sit in front of this computer screen and type words, but ask me to speak in front of a group of people and I’m a shaking, stomach-twisted mess. In 2010, my brother convinced me to run my first half marathon. I was terrified. TERRIFIED!!! People would be watching. What if I fell? What if I couldn’t finish? What if? What if? What if? But I did it. I didn’t fail. I didn’t win. I didn’t place. That wasn’t the point. The point was, I accomplished something big. I did something new, something scary. It changed me. I felt different afterwards…..stronger, more confident, braver. That was the year I finally put on skis, took a lesson, and started skiing (kind of). I was terrified. People were watching.  What if I fell? What if I couldn’t make it down the hill? What if I couldn’t get off the ski lift? I did fall. So did nearly everyone around me. I made it down the hill. I didn’t get stuck on the ski lift. Instead, I got to ski with my children. I got to be on the mountain with them, rather than waiting with the camera at the bottom. I accomplished something. I did something new, something scary. And it changed me. I felt different afterwards….stronger, more confident, braver.

I’m not a half marathon race winner. I’ll never ever be in a downhill competition. That’s not the point. The point is to do new things, try something that might be scary. It will change you. You will feel different, and I promise it will be in a good way. It’s important to me for my kids to see me get outside of myself, try something in which there’s a very real risk of failing.  I need them to know it’s okay to fail, especially when you’re trying something new. I need them to know it makes you grow as a person, it makes you stronger, more confident, braver.

I’m starting a new adventure. I’m terrified. What if I fail? What if I can’t live up to expectations? Fears rolled through my mind, one after the other yesterday. But you know what? It will be okay. It’s new and it’s scary, but I will learn, and I will grow.

Go do something new. Try something scary. Let your kids see you do it. You will feel different. You’ll be stronger, more confident, braver. And when you have, come tell me about it.

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