What Are You Afraid to Try?
After college, in the early 2000s, my brother and I were in San Diego with friends. He was living there, and I was temporarily living there (freeloading off them).
We were leaving a parking garage in the Gaslamp Quarter one evening when the MTV Real World van pulled in the garage and wedged themselves in tight. I don’t mean they squeezed in a narrow parking spot, I mean the top of their van was scraping the ceiling of the parking garage, and they couldn’t move forward or backward without damage to the van. They were completely stuck.
MTV Real World was a big deal then and the cast was in the van. They hopped out, yelled, debated about what to do, cursed, and sat there. We and the line of cars behind us needed them to move before we could exit.
After watching for a few minutes, my brother rolled down his window and said, “why don’t you try letting a little air out of your tires?” He hopped out and helped. It worked. There were cheers! Everyone went merrily on their way.
Now how many of you would have just called AAA? Or parking security? Or your dad? Or even 911? Be honest: Would you have tried something to improve the situation first or would you have immediately looked to someone else?
I ask because I’ve noticed that no one tries anything anymore. They outsource it, turn to an expert, hire someone else to do it. They opt out without knowing if they can handle it, what it’s like or if they’d like it. Where’s the fun in that?
When I talk to other moms about our big trips with the kids, I commonly hear “We could never do that.” When I share the language immersion aspect of our twin’s curriculum, they respond “Wow, are you sure they can handle that?” When my neighbors see me in the garden, they say, “How did you figure out what to plant or what would grow?”
The answer is always the same, you just do it. Figure it out as you go. Read a bit, research online, try it. Sometimes our experiments fail, sometimes they are successful, but every single time we try something new, we are better for it. Our lives are enriched. We grow.
When you try something new, the outcome is (almost) irrelevant. What matters is that you tried, you stretched yourself, you moved outside your comfort zone, you learned something new, you widened your perspective, you got to experience a little bit more of life.
“Do you want to try CycleBar with me?” I ask all the moms. “No, don’t they put your name on the leaderboard?” “No, I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a girl.” “No, it’s too intense.”
“What can I bring to your tea party? Please say it’s something I can buy. I’ve never made scones. I’m sure they wouldn’t turn out.”
“You let your kids paint? Right on the kitchen table? Without supervision? What if… (spirals into one of 99 worst-case scenarios)?”
So what? So what? So what? What if you took a big trip and didn’t know how to plan it and packed the wrong things and got seasick? You’d be ok. You’d remember that adventure forever.
What if your kids started Mandarin and you couldn’t help with homework, so you had to learn it too? You’d learn it too or figure something else out. What if you started with patio pots and it went well, so you asked your hubby to build you long raised beds? Your family would have fresh veggies and learn the pace of nature.
What if you rode just one ride and it was enough to make you remember how good it feels to start your day with a boost of cardio and positivity? You might start making more time for yourself in the morning before the demands of the day took you in their own direction.
What if you went to Home Goods for holiday décor and noticed that Sticky Fingers scones are “just add water”? You’d have a super easy, super delicious go-to dish to contribute to the rest of your get-togethers this year.
What if your kids loved the freedom of knowing you trusted them with the paint, so they made Grandma and Grandpa a Christmas masterpiece? You’d get to listen to all three of them while you wrote and they painted, loving the sound of their shared engagement, their laughter, hearing them exploring their own creativity.
Are these silly examples? Yes, but the best moments Mama, are the everyday ones, the ones happening right now. You know this. You can’t schedule, orchestrate, capture, or buy them all. The best moments are the ones filled with the peace, happiness, contentment, and inspiration that come from doing, from trying, from participating in life.
When you let yourself try life, Mama, your kids have a great role model. They don’t feel pressured to perform, achieve, or compete, they are just living too, figuring out what makes them happy.
There is so much to see, do, and be in the world. Try it together.
And, in case you didn’t know, here is today’s (14 years later) PSA — How to let the air out of your vehicle’s tires: Rotate the valve stem cap counterclockwise with your fingers to remove the cap from the stem. Inside the stem, there is a metal pin in the center. Place the tip of a flat-head screwdriver over the top of the metal pin and press the pin inward. The air will begin to release from the tire through the valve stem.
Safe driving out there! Put your phones down please.