I’m a bit of a sap, filled with emotion and moved to tears every time I watch people trying their best.
Seeing their mother weeping in the stands at track-meets, performances and concerts when they were young used to embarrass my kids. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to control it and, in truth, I didn’t really want to. They got used to it.
The trend continues as I witness my grandchildren at their piano and dance recitals. It happened again recently as I watched my great-niece perform a ballet via zoom. There I sat at my kitchen table silently cheering, my body filled with goosebumps, my heart warm, and tears leaking down my face as she danced a beautiful ballet. I’m in awe of them trying.
Witnessing people taking risks, trying their best and stretching themselves moves me.
I loved sitting in the audience at a recent dance production of “Carry On” by Creator’s Arts Centre, feeling the support and encouragement of people cheering the children on. We were all smiling at their successes and even their mis-steps, heartily clapping as they finished, no matter the technical quality of the performance. We’re all happy just because they tried.
As children, we’re encouraged to stretch ourselves, to learn and try new things out. As parents we support our kids and praise them, even when things aren’t perfect. Kids thrive and grow and find new abilities and passions as they’re bathed in this encouragement and safety.
Sadly, as kids grow, more seems to be expected, the need to be perfect and proficient emerges. The trend to critique what went wrong rather than celebrate trying starts to grow, and something dies as the voice of the critic takes reign.
That critical nature can destroy joy as the inherent negativity bias of the brain kicks in. What’s negative or challenging is stickier in our minds than what’s positive. It takes five positive comments to offset one negative comment in a heathy relationship, whether it be with others or within ourselves.
Moving into adulthood our willingness to take risks, to try out new things often decreases. The die seems cast. When we do this, we lose out.
As a palliative care nurse, I listened to far too many people who, in their last days, regretted not following their dreams and callings. I chose to take the lesson they offered me.
The emergence of perfectionist tendencies within my own life had become a prison I’d built to try to stay safe. For years, I felt safer staying within the narrow bounds of what I felt good at, yet something within me wanted to stretch and grow in new areas. I was reminded of what my declining patients taught me.
We might age, but we don’t have to grow old. Trying new things keeps us fresh, young at heart and with a growing edge. And, it does take courage, but I’d rather say I tried than I was afraid to.
As adults, let’s cheer for ourselves and one another like we cheer for the children who are willing to try. Let’s offer ourselves the same encouragement and support in our new ventures.
Letting go of the fear of not being good enough or of failing, getting up and dancing life’s dance leads to new horizons a sense of fulfillment and maybe a good laugh. It’s led me into living a life I never thought possible for myself.
What new adventure or skill is calling you? It’s time to give it a try.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.