Welcome to my weekly highlights of bravery! If you’ve landed here by mistake, maybe it’s for a reason. Maybe you should read on and start your very own act of bravery. If you’re not quite ready yet, still read on and be inspired by my own attempts at bravery (or at least laugh, cry, or cringe along with me). Hopefully, one day, these tiny steps will lead us both closer to living smack in the middle of our dreams.
A few months ago, my daughter and I had a life-altering conversation. I don’t remember the specific subject, I don’t remember the exact words, but I do remember the profound shift that happened inside me.
The general conversation centered on Emma’s despair over not getting something right the first time. Just so you fully understand what I’m saying, this was her first attempt. She never dealt with anything like this before.
I remember sitting on the couch, just staring at her. The wheels turned in my head, thinking, pondering, trying to figure out how she could possibly master the subject if she’d never learned it before.
No brainer, right?
Being a good mother, I probably said these exact words, rather matter-of-factly, without much tenderness, because it was just so obvious.
Not to her.
She pushed back. And pushed back some more.
She pushed back until we dug to the root of the problem.
The problem was her perception. If she didn’t understand, if she didn’t get it right the first time, if she failed, that made her a bad person.
A bad person?
My daughter who has so much integrity she doesn’t know how to be dishonest. My daughter who will fight for her friends and her family until her last dying breath. My daughter who will always, always do the right thing because it physically hurts her to consider otherwise.
A bad person? No.
She doesn’t live anywhere near the same planet as a bad person.
She was listening to lies. Complete and total lies.
I got angry.
I pinched that lie by the heel and hung it upside down, about to give it a piece of my mind when it waved at me.
It waved, with a giant, impish grin on its ugly little face, and said, “Hey, Rachelle. How the perfectionist’s life?” Just like we were old friends.
The same lie that fed my daughter such complete bull? We were BFFs. We hung out together. All the time. In fact, I couldn’t remember a single time in my life without it.
Realization slapped hard me across the face.
Here I was, appalled at my daughter’s inability to give herself grace. Flabbergasted that she thought making a mistake would disqualify her. Furious that her brain was wired to believe excelling equalled worth. And I’d bought the same lie. I could make a scrapbook with all the life events we’d buddied up on.
When I started Acts of Bravery I had this romantic notion that everyday I’d accomplish something adventurous or glamorous.
But the truth? I struggle. I take baby steps. I fail. I get back up. I whine. A lot. And that perfectionist lie sits on my shoulder telling me I’m not doing enough. That I suck. That I should be farther along. That I should just quit. But if I quit, then I’m a bad person.
How is it we tell our kids, with one-hundred percent authenticity, that failure is simply learning? But when it comes to our own failure we become outright mean to ourselves?
When I held that sniveling lie by its heel, I recognized it for what it was. Simply a lie.
I could choose to let it dictate my self-worth. Or I could believe the truth: I’m on a journey and with failure often comes an invaluable life lesson.
Suddenly, all its power evaporated.
I decided to chuck that lie outside.
At the risk of repeating myself (I’ve talked about this a few times on the blog here and here and also on Chico Now! a radio show I’ve been a guest on for the last month), looking back on the last two months of bravery, it’s been the small, incremental, steady steps forward that have made all the difference in the world. Sure certain brave acts are more glamorous, but I would never have reached them if I didn’t fail. If I didn’t stretch. If I didn’t whine and cry and feel overwhelmed.
I guess I keep kicking this dead horse because I’m in the middle of this lesson right now. And I’m going to live it until I assimilate it.
Until that lie stays outside, powerless for good.
What’s your current lesson? Have you accepted it? Share it in the comments. Talk about it until you’re beating a dead horse with me, until all its power evaporates. I’d love to cheer you on!