I have many issues. I’m disabled. I’m mentally ill. I have a ton of anxiety.
You know what I don’t have an issue with?
Trying new things.
I’m talking about the kind of self confidence that, when faced with a new hobby or a steep learning curve, allows me to throw myself at my goal without hesitation.
Will I succeed?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But I’m not afraid to try.
I think there’s a core to this that is entirely due to my parents being awesome. I’m not afraid to try, and I’m not afraid of failing, because I did both as a kid, frequently.
My parents cheered me on regardless.
That new piece of artwork? It may not be pretty, but Mom put it on the fridge, praised me for my effort, and gave gentle feedback on how to improve.
That short story I wrote in 7th grade? Mom read it, praised me for my effort, and gave gentle feedback on where it needs work.
Do you sense a theme here?
It’s not just my mom. My dad has always been hugely supportive too.
I want to paint a desk for my room? Okay, let’s look up the steps, maybe watch a few videos, and then get in there and try it. And then he would look at the result, praise me for the work that was put in, and gave feedback on how I could do it better next time.
I want to put a computer together from scratch? Okay, let’s look up the steps, read the instructions, and get in there and try it.
Even things like accidentally blocking the shower drain. You caused this with your three feet of hair? Look up the steps and then get in there and try it.
But what about when I failed? Like, really, really failed?
It didn’t matter if it was a failure. They’d be proud of the efforts and work I put in, and they’d give advice on how I could try differently.
They taught me it was okay to fail.
They taught me that failure didn’t mean I was a failure.
It was okay to fail spectacularly.
I failed out of the Japanese language program I took in college. I put everything into it I could, and it still ended up with me dropping out 5th semester.
It was hard. I was really upset with myself, crushed that my dream had gone up in flames.
But you know what wasn’t there? Parental recriminations.
That angry/dark/hurtful voice in my head? It was ONLY my voice, not an echo of things said to me in the past. And I recovered, swallowed that hurt, and tried a different major. I kept working hard despite multiple failures along the way and finished my degree.
My parents taught me to try. And they taught me that failing was just part of the process. They taught me that failing didn’t mean I was a failure, only that I should try a different way or adjust my goals.
As we crawl up on my book release date, I’m nervous about the release, scrambling to get things done on the back end while I wait for the book to get back from proof readers.
But I’m not afraid to try.
And if I fail?
It’ll be hard. It’ll hurt. But that’s okay too.
It’s all part of the process.
Thank you to my parents. You’ve given me the best kind of confidence.