When I was nine, I had a friend who was great at everything.
Well, everything that mattered.
I was good at things like writing poems and making frogs out of tinfoil.
(Neither of which will get you a boyfriend, by the way).
And she was good at all the things that tend to make nine-year-olds well-liked and popular.
Like sports . . . and activities that require physical coordination and stuff.
In winter, she skated circles around me. (Literally) She was a figure skater—practicing her triple salchow while I did my awkward ankle shuffle across the ice.
In summer, she was the one on the high diving board, springing off the end with all the joy in the world before turning headfirst toward the blue water below.
I was in the shallow end, holding my nose and playing “teaparty” under the water.
We were two different girls with two different personalities and two different ways of experiencing the world.
Which (incidentally) helped each of us grow in ways we wouldn’t have if we hadn't been friends.
It’s important to be inspired by others—to be exposed to another point of view.
But not at the cost of the unique voice inside you.
I didn’t know this at nine.
Back then, I wanted to be exactly like my friend.
“You’ve GOT to try that!” she said, bursting up through the water after one of her spectacular dives.
And the next thing I knew, I was being pulled out of the pool and led straight to the foot of the high diving board.
Because isn’t shared joy twice the joy?
Of course it is!
My friend wanted me to feel the same exhilaration, the same tummy-tingling thrill that she did.
There was just one little problem.
Her idea of exhilaration wasn’t the same as mine.
I loved reading books and making up songs in my head.
I loved exploring old, abandoned barns and talking to trees.
(And staring out the window for hours, daydreaming)
You know. WEIRD stuff.
And no nine-year old wants to be weird.
I truly just wanted to fit in.
So I forced myself to climb to the top of the high diving board while everyone watched.
But there was no excitement or joy in my heart—just a sickening slop in my belly.
I inched my way to the end in horrible, halting increments while people shouted to me from the bleachers.
Then I just stood there, staring down at the long drop below—heart pounding, teeth-chattering—my white skin turning purplish-blue for the entire town to see.
Five awful minutes turned into ten.
My friend tried to help.
“You don’t have to dive!” she shouted. “Just close your eyes and jump in!”
But I couldn’t.
So I turned around and took the long shameful climb back down the ladder, then ran to the locker room and cried.
The truth is, I just wasn’t ready.
And that’s the crux of the thing.
Because there’s an entire school of thought that says we’ll never be ready. That we've just got to suck it up and do the thing that scares us most RIGHT NOW.
And there's a part of me that completely agrees.
The brain will come up with all sorts of reasons why it’s not a good idea to do something challenging.
Sometimes we DO need a little nudge to get us out of our comfort zone.
But I’m here to tell you something.
If you’re not ready to jump darling, DON’T FUCKING JUMP!
Instead, ask yourself. “What’s stopping me?”
If the answer is fear (and you actually, secretly, want to dive into the pool) then you’ve got some thought-work to do!
But if the answer is “this isn’t the day”
Or “this isn’t the place”
Or “this isn’t the right crowd of people”
Then honey, you’ve got to listen to your own inner knowing!
Action taken in a state of disconnection can only create more disconnection!
It’s okay to change your mind and climb back down the ladder.
In fact, its okay to just stay where you are and wait.
Don’t worry. You’ll take the plunge.
And you’ll do it from a place of readiness that will come from the core of who you really are.
Sure the fear will be there, but it will be insignificant compared with your desire to grow.
Sooner or later, standing in one place will become more painful than actually stepping off the board.
So listen to your own sense of timing.
Honor your right to be ready.
Trust me . . .
You’ll know when to jump.
Sending you so much love,