Last week my daughter found out the authors of a book she was interested in were going to be at Town Hall here in the city, giving a talk about their book. She realized this the morning of the event, bought a ticket and attended the show. Completely by herself. No friends, no me…just herself.
At 16, there was no way I would ever attend an event by myself. My first thought would be “What kind of loser will people think I am because I’m at this alone?” I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the event. I would have sat home.
But that sort of summed up my childhood…sitting home alone, too afraid to try anything. Too afraid of how people would perceive me. I cared so much about what others thought of me.
I guess you know that’s changed.
Nowadays- I really don’t care what others think of me. I speak my mind, wear what I want, do what I want. And I can’t help but wonder if this is why my daughter has the courage to try- to go out of her comfort zone. Maybe there is something to this actions speak louder than words….
See, when I was growing up my Mom was great at the “You can do anything” speech. Except when it was something my sister or I wanted to do. Then she would say “Why do you want to do that?” My Mother had conceived notions as to what was acceptable behavior, and what were acceptable pastimes. She had very strict codes of conduct that we were supposed to follow.
But my Mother is also the Queen of actually not doing anything. My Mother has two hobbies: shopping and “discussing” politics. She actually DVR’s home shopping network. And to say she discusses anything, let alone politics, would be an injustice to the definition of discuss.
My Mother has also never gone out of her comfort zone. Ever. I am 78% scaredy cat because my Mother’s innate fear of everything is so ingrained in me and I don’t think I can afford to spend that much money on therapy. So I grew up with my Mother telling me exactly what I should and should not do- what I was allowed to do, and what I was not allowed to do.
And it took me a long time to get out of my comfort zone.
When I finally had a child, I knew I did not want her to grow up with a sense of fear that was part of my DNA. I knew I had to tell her she could do anything. But I also had to show her that I was willing to go out of my comfort zone. (well- a little, because we all know I hyperventilated climbing the steps of a lighthouse) I had to show her that I am willing to speak my mind about anything, take intellectual risks, go places alone if I am interested in something that no one else is.
Maybe it worked.
I will not take all the credit for her confidence. I actually don’t know what you’re born with and what you take on. (for the record I’m not getting into the nature/nurture today) But I do know that my daughter has a confidence that I just don’t have. My Husband, her Father- well, he doesn’t have it either.
I took the risk of having a child. I took the risk of choosing a way to raise her. I took the risk of believing in the path that was in front of me. I was confident in my choices.
I guess my daughter was watching.