Saturday, August 30, 2008

Give It a Twirl

People often choose unhappiness over uncertainty. I know too many people in jobs or relationships that drain them, yet they are afraid to make a change. We were much braver as kids.

In sixth grade, I wanted to be a baton twirler in the worst way. I practiced on the front lawn for days. Clunking myself in the head several times didn’t dent the dream. I had never tried out for anything before, but I was just as excited as I was nervous. As my mom dropped me off at try outs, she turned to me and solemnly said, “Don’t feel too bad if you don’t make it.” She clearly thought I didn't stand a chance. With motivational words like that, what kid wouldn’t want to take on the world? Where the heck was my "You can do it!?"

Instead of slinking back in the car to go home and avoid certain humiliation, I remember feeling sorry for my mom. I knew then I’d rather suck at baton twirling than be that pessimistic. I was already ahead of the game. And with that, I kicked baton butt.

During the Thanksgiving parade, I dropped my baton at the very top of the steepest street and had to chase it down through the band to the bottom. But instead of sitting at home, I had marched. It wasn't pretty, but I was a baton twirler.

As we get older, it seems harder to take risks. Now, I fear success just as much as failure. Success often entails more change than failing. I dislike change - even when it's good. Things will be different - unknown. But I'll be unhappy if I'm not successful. So will it be unhappiness or uncertainty?

The stakes are higher. There is less time on the clock. That's all the more reason to take a risk. Not initiating much needed change makes us passive aggressive martyrs. We blame our responsibilities and imagined constraints for not changing. But that’s crap.

My most important responsibility is my children. I want them to lead full and happy lives. "Show don’t tell" is an effective journalism rule that should be applied to parenting.

This is clearly a hurdle of the human condition. There is even a saying - "a bird in hand, is better than two in the bush." Maybe not - if your bird keeps crapping on you. Time for a new tweetie. Some situations are unhealthy. I say, choose uncertainty.

Take things for a twirl.

Disclaimer to avoid disownment: My mom has always been tremendously supportive and optimistic about my writing. She is just a risk-averse English teacher and was never a baton twirler.

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