This image popped up on my Instagram feed today, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
Do you ever look back at things you did when you were younger and think, ‘Jeez that was ballsy! I don’t know why I thought I could pull that off; so much could have gone wrong!’ Youth gives one a sense of invincibility; we’ll leap off of any cliff without thinking twice. But then one day we leap and…we fall. So the next time we have a chance to leap, we hesitate, remembering the pain of the past fall. Live long enough and it’s no wonder why most of us crave routine and order in our old age. We grow tired, unsure if we have the energy to get up should we fall again.
When I think about the time that I was certain that I could start a cupcake business with no business experience and very little baking background when I was a 21 year old newly wed, I shake my head in embarrassment. I was a complete fool, and the venture ended within a few months. On one hand I can’t believe how foolish I was to just jump into waters that I literally knew nothing about simply because I watched too many episodes of Cake Boss and thought, ‘I could totally do that!’ But on the other hand, I’m proud of the bravado that I naturally had at the time to try something completely different even though I had no business even trying.
When I think about the time in college when I was taking 16 units, acting in 2 productions, helping with costumes on one of those productions, working 2 part time jobs, moving in between rehearsals 50 miles away from home, and then saying ‘yes’ to directing a student production in 3 days, I’m convinced that I was mentally impaired. I lost too much weight and failed my math class, but otherwise managed to live through it. But seriously–what the hell was I thinking?! I’m tired just thinking about that crazy semester. But you know what? I developed serious endurance through all of that and learned the important lesson of ‘how to say no’.
When I think about the time that I made an appointment to view a commercial space that I wanted to turn into a 50 seat theatre, despite having nothing saved up, no plan, no backers, and being pregnant with our second child, I marvel at my faith that looked past every circumstance. I even had my small group from church come to the building with me one night so we could pray over it (and anoint it with car oil, lol!). My frame of mind was this: if God was behind it, then it would come to be, despite the overwhelming odds; if He was not behind it, then it wouldn’t happen, and I would move wherever He pointed me towards next. Nothing ever came of that brief pie-in-the-sky dream, but it was a pivotal moment in my walk of faith, so I don’t regret making a complete ass of myself in front of those realtors.
Even though my first reaction to these memories (and all the others not listed here) is embarrassment, if I’m being honest, I don’t regret a thing. If anything, I envy that young girl who wasn’t afraid to try new things, despite the huge chance of failure. I envy her optimism and faith, because I’ve grown quite pessimistic. I’ve grown comfortable in the routine of my life, so despite the part of me that wants to do something crazy like selling fondant cake toppers on Etsy, I’m also content to leave well enough alone and just continue doing what I’m doing. But at the end of my life, I don’t want to look back and have nothing except memories of routine and predictability.
One of my friends told me about a man that she met who told her his life’s story. He was almost done with either a doctor or law degree (I can’t remember which) and decided–after all that schooling–that he didn’t actually want to do that. So he quit, just like that. He then spent the rest of his life going from one profession to another, each one having nothing to do with the previous one. And he had no regrets. He was quite happy, actually. His story forever impacted my friend, and me as well. I can’t help but marvel at a person who managed to go through his whole life never losing that youth mind set of, ‘I think I want to try this now’.
My oldest daughter is a perfectionist. Hermoine Granger is without question her spirit animal. She came out of dance class crying last week because she had messed up while they were practicing their routine and she was so upset at herself for failing. “It’s ok to make mistakes honey; that’s how we learn.” I am forever having to tell her this, and know that I will have to say it many more times as she grows. But she’s never going to learn this important lesson if I don’t show it to her as well as say it.
It’s time for me to take my own advice.
If at the end of my life I’ve tried a hundred different things, but only managed to succeed at a handful of them, then that’s a job well done. At least I will be able to say that I was never too afraid to try.
I don’t know what your crazy idea is friend, but I want to be the one to tell you to go for it. In the words of Miss Frizzle from The Magic Schoolbus:
It’s time to take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!