What’s your biggest fear?
Snakes? Heights? Spiders? If we dig a little deeper, we may discover what really scares us is not being accepted, not feeling lovable or loved, or not quite good enough.
When did we develop those fears? For some of us it was one moment in time that was so traumatic we remember it like it was yesterday. Someone said something or did something to us that made us feel unworthy or unimportant and caused us to view the world as unsafe. For many of us it wasn’t one single thing, but a series of events that combined made us feel uncomfortable in our own skin, timid, and fearful.
This week I was reminded twice that fear is a liar, and only holds power if we let it.
Our granddaughter, Chloe is outgoing, creative and fun. Her favorite things include kittens and all things sparkly. Tryouts were held at her school for an upcoming talent show for grades K-3. Being in kindergarten and one of the youngest participants did not deter her; she sang a song for her audition. She was the only kindergartener selected to make the cut, to which she was over-the-moon excited!
The day came where she would perform in a room full of students, parents, and of course, grandparents. Pretty daunting for a 7-year old, you would think. But not for Miss Chloe. She strutted confidently out onto the stage in in full regalia – pink sparkly shoes, polka dot tights, rainbow toile skirt, turquoise off one shoulder top, a big multi-colored bow in her hair, pink sparkly earrings, and a huge smile! With pure innocence and joy, she began singing. There was no sound coming from her headset, and my heart sank. But it didn’t faze Chloe. She continued to belt out her song without skipping a beat, and within a few seconds the problem was rectified and we could hear her sweet song loud and clear.
I was so impressed by her bravery as she sang her tender little heart out, having the time of her life. I wondered at what point in my life I had lost the courage to be so visible, vulnerable and brave.
(Side note: she took Second Place).
Fast forward to the following night…
My daughter, Stacey, and I meet every Tuesday for dinner and this week she texted me that she wouldn’t be able to make it because her daughter, Mackenzie, was participating in a Choir Concert at her school. She invited me to come, and I immediately said yes.
I figured this would be a typical group concert where Mackenzie was part of that group. And it was. With one exception. I found when I got there that Mackenzie had a solo part in one of the selections. This blew my mind! I wasn’t surprised about Chloe’s debut, but Mackenzie is a different type of girl altogether.
First of all, she’s thirteen years old! I can’t imagine doing something that bold at thirteen. I would describe Mackenzie as wise beyond her years, witty and clever, but not particularly extroverted. She tends to be more quiet and thoughtful. She’s caring and considerate, and loves animals, especially her dog Muffin who she carries around in her arms most of the time. So, you can imagine my surprise to hear that she willingly volunteered and auditioned for this spot on the program.
As time drew near for her solo, I found myself becoming very nervous for her. Thirteen can be a vulnerable age and I so wanted her to have a good experience.
When she stepped forward with quiet elegance in her simple white tank top, long black skirt, and neatly combed hair falling just past her shoulders, I knew my fears were unfounded. She exuded calm, poise and confidence as beautiful tones emerged from this precious young woman’s mouth. I was amazed! I had never heard her sing before, and didn’t know she was holding inside her such a beautiful gift. When she finished, her mom and I looked at each other in amazement, as we both said, “She was really good!”.
Afterwards, as I hugged her and told her how proud of her I was, I said, “You didn’t even look nervous” to which she replied, “Oh, I was nervous. I was really sweaty!”.
There was my second lesson. Bravery doesn’t mean not being afraid. It means stepping into life and playing full out in the face of being scared.
I’ve given a lot of thought to both lessons from my unique and precious granddaughters since then, examining what it is that I’m most fearful of, and why. The power and hold those old stories typically had on me seem trivial as I reflect on what I experienced recently. Fear tries to hold us back, to keep us small and ineffective. But, I have a choice. I can give in and allow that to happen, or I can choose to live the life I was created to live. I prefer instead to be the greatest expression of myself and a courageous positive force and light in the world.
With tears in my eyes, filled with awe and pride for these two sweet girls that I love so much, and the lessons they taught their Grammy, a song came on the radio that stands as a constant reminder to me.
I hope it’s a good reminder for you, too.