Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why adults should be like children

Three guesses as to who this lovely former child is.

A few months ago, as my parents and I were cleaning out our old house in the hopes of putting it back on the market, I stumbled across some old home movies. You know, the ones where your parents spend countless hours shoving a video camera in your face and waiting for you to sit up, roll over, walk, talk, and do general things that kids do. Since we already had them gathered together and I wanted an excuse to watch them all again, I decided to finally start the process of uploading them from VHS to DVD.
In the process, I stumbled on an old video of me singing Kum ba Ya at age six. I tried to upload it to YouTube, but thankfully failed (imagine how embarrassing that would have been!). But one thing I noticed about the video was how loud and confident I was. That's the amazing thing about little kids -- they haven't yet developed the social skills that let them know when to keep their mouth closed for fear of offending someone else or themselves. Or, you know, realizing when they really suck at something. It's why I painted and drew hundreds of pictures and hung them all over my bedroom (and living room) walls until I finally realized at age 10 or 11 that I was awful at it.
Now, I'm not saying that you should go out and try to audition for American Idol even if you know you're not a great singer (there's something called the Dunning-Kruger effect that comes to mind when bad AI auditions come up, but that's another blog post for another day). But once we get out of our pre-pubescent days, so many people are held back by the fear of failure. That no matter what we do, it won't be good enough, so we shouldn't even bother trying. That we shouldn't be singing that tune because nobody wants to hear it.
I've never been the type of person to let fear hold me back. At least when it comes to silly fears, like roller coasters and fire (both things I once feared, but now love). When it comes to bigger things like, say, taking a shot at getting my dream career, I'm a little more hesitant. Even though I'm working my way through the first attempt, I'm still fearful that I'll never make it and subjected to a career that doesn't include writing. Which plenty of writers do and are still perfectly happy. But being a young adult out in the real world for the first time, my life is finally starting, and that's pretty scary. And I know a lot of other people who are in my position. But we all have to remember to sing that tune. Maybe nobody wants to hear it. Maybe everyone does. Maybe enough people do to make us happy and we have to ignore the rest. And if we don't try, we can never fail...but we can never succeed either.

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