Thursday, September 4, 2014

How I Learned to Risk: Part One

In 8th grade, I decided to try out for drill team. I was done with majorettes (that's baton twirling for all you non-band folk), and I wanted to be a Chaffin Charmer. An important fact to point out is all of my dance class history, which was zilch. Another important fact was my athletic ability; I was at the point of my life that I classify as the "awkward phase." Not my best few years. But, nevertheless, I signed up anyway. I went to the classes that taught the tryout dance, and my best friend at the time, Keely (who was 100% athlete and grace combined) helped me many afternoons to perfect my skills. I'll never forget her telling me how great I was at pointing my toes. 

So tryouts came, and even back then, they were a BIG deal. I got in my group of girls, headed into the gym, and did my best. I remember thinking in my head as a 14 year old chubby girl, "Do your best," "Smile," "Show your personality!" I walked out of the gym feeling like I had done what I could, and I felt secure in that, whatever the results came out to be. 

So back at this time, the Internet was not was it is today. The results of who made drill team and cheerleading were read after tryouts in the gym with everyone there to see your face and hear your cries. Spoiler alert: I did not make Chaffin Charmers that year. I didn't bust into tears or sob in my t-shirt. I was simply ready to exit the gym and get home. The only thing worse than being around all my peers in that gym to get those results was facing the barrage of screaming, hysterical, ridiculous moms waiting outside the glass doors outside. I will never forget one mom literally grabbing me and screaming, "DID SHE MAKE IT? DID 'SARAH' MAKE CHEERLEADER?!!!?" She shoved me aside before I could even answer. It was as close to a circus that I have ever been to. (Read Kevin Thompson's Blog What a Child's Mistake Reveals About a Parent for more insight on that area).

My tears didn't come until I walked up to my mom and had to tell her that I didn't make it... with all my green and gold good luck balloons, flowers, cards, and candy in my hands. I remember her hugging me, saying, "Oh baby. I'm so sorry. I'm sure you did your best and that it was great." We went home, and we talked more about the tryouts and the day I had getting these gifts and notes of good luck and a gigantic card signed by everyone I loved at the time wishing me the best. Even in my moment of "failure," my mom comforted me, supported me, and loved me without making me feel any shame. 

This memory came as a fleeting thought last week, and I cried as I began to think of how powerful this has been for me in my life. I cried talking to my husband about it, and I'm crying now as I type. I started thinking about how I had NO business trying out for a dance team - what was I even thinking? How did I even think I had a chance? How many times in my life did I attempt something that was completely out of my reach? How was I able to do that?

It's because of my mom. 

When I had a grand idea or some lofty dream, she was there to tell me I could do it and do it well. There was no doubt or discouragement when I said I wanted to try out to be a Charmer; she sent me the biggest good luck balloon there was. When I said that I wanted to to try out to give a speech at my high school graduation (when really I should stick to just writing and not really ever public speaking), she was my audience for a mock performance giving me the standing ovation in the living room. When I wanted to move across the country to spend a summer in Atlanta, she threw me a goodbye party, rode with me halfway, kissed me goodbye, and said I'd be fine. When I wanted to go to graduate school, she was there to say I could do it and that she was already so proud. When I wanted to go skydiving, she said I love you and be safe and watched as I got on a plane.

*Photo Cred: Stuart Lippincott

Mom, you were my safety net when I stepped out on unsteady tightropes. You were my parachute when I jumped out of tiny, beat up planes. You have been my safe place of loving support for my entire life, and it's because of you that I learned to leap and not fear the fall. You have given me a gift that many kids don't get... that will last all of my life and into my future children's lives. To say thank you is not enough, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. So many times I swung for the fences, not even knowing that I was a t-ball player in a major league game... all because you confidently held up a pendant reading "YOU CAN DO IT!" from the bleachers. You are the reason I can risk... because I know that you will be there if I make it or not, saying I did my best and that you love me anyway.

im thankful
carrie anne


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