You know, I never would have described myself as fearful. I happily sky dive. I don't scream when I see snakes or mice. I frequently fly in an airplane and do so without a qualm. I feel comfortable driving alone from Tennessee to Missouri. I eat alone in public and go to movies by myself. I walk around downtown at night. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Not scared. Just not.
Since I'm among friends, I'll even admit that at times I've been a little smug about this lack of fearfulness. When I am around someone who is a little bit more than cautious, a bit fearful, I would sometimes think to myself, "How silly."
You know as well as I do that it is a dangerous thing to be smug. Soon enough something will come along to knock that smirk off your attitude. In my case, I began to realize all the ways I wasn't brave.
OK. OK... All the ways that I was fearful.
Here's one: I hate introducing myself to strangers. Hate it. I just know I'll do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or somehow turn them off. I'll have something in my teeth or laugh too loudly or at the wrong joke. Or trip and fall. Or break a dinner plate. (Which by the way, I sometimes do.) I am always afraid that I won't be right somehow and will ruin that potential friendship before it even begins. Silly, huh? Because instead I don't introduce myself at all, and am left with a trail of missed opportunities littering the path behind me.
I am still working on this one thing. Still.
But there are others. Other fears that are more limiting.
Like this one: I've always been either very hesitant or completely unwilling to publicly try something new. I just wouldn't audition, try a sport, play an instrument... Nothing new unless I was already pretty sure I would be good at it. When I was five I waffled back and forth about joining the kids' choir till I was in tears and my mother very nearly was. I really, really wanted to sing. But, oh, I was afraid I might sound bad and get laughed at. My mother finally got tired of all my waffling and told me to choose right now: choir or we would go home. I choose choir and immediately changed my mind. Thank God Mom gave me no choice but to stick with it. I love to sing. And I almost never tried.
There are many other things I didn't try. I didn't try out for cheerleader or drill team. I never learned to play an instrument. I was five foot eight when I was twelve and I didn't play basketball. I was afraid I might not be any good. I was afraid I'd be laughed at.
So many missed opportunities.
It's funny how parenting can change you.
Wanting better for your children can bring home truths you knew but never really lived. Not too long ago Sloane was scared to try something new. So we talked. And I told her about me. And I told her about her Uncle Brett. Uncle Brett never let fear stop him from trying new things. He wanted to play soccer, so he did. And, so what if he was never a starter? He was on the team. He wanted to play an instrument, so he did. He played the trombone in a great jazz band in high school. He wanted to be an actor, so he became one. He had never acted, but he tried out anyway. And earned a part. And eventually was featured on the front page of the Lifestyles section of the Chattanooga Times. "Be like your Uncle Brett," I told her. "Be like him. Don't be afraid to try new things. Don't be like your Momma was. Be like your Uncle Brett."
Like your Momma was...
One thing I am is a truth teller. Like your Momma
Afraid to try new things publicly. Afraid to fail in front of people.
Be like your Uncle Brett...
And so I will. I will try. I will become more like my brother, Brett. I will. I will be brave.
And I'm going to start here. In this place. With these friends.
Are you laughing? You are supposed to be laughing. It's funny. But, really, I'm not copping out. It's just that it's late. Really late. Besides, I'm a dramatic sort of girl. I like to build up some anticipation. So I'll be back here tomorrow. Ready to be brave. I hope to see you then.
Good night , sweet friends. Good night.
Circus image found here.