We belonged to the neighborhood pool growing up and it was the only pool left with a high dive. This stood as a beacon of awesome amidst a pool full of kids waiting to become great enough to conquer their fears and soar into the land of those who jumped and came up smiling. After countless summers of longing, it was my time. Everyone in my friend group had already made their moment a reality and they were living their best life now as those who came, saw, and conquered. Now I was finally old enough and could swim the required length to tackle the high dive. It was time.
I marched up the first few rungs with great vigor! As the rungs got higher I took note that I had never voluntarily been this high without, oh I dunno, being strapped into a plane! So the steps got slower and slower until…I stopped. Now we all know when doing something hard and walking towards grandeur the important thing is if you slow your roll just… keep… going, but whatever you do, don’t stop. If you do stop, then do not begin thinking about how terrifying what you are trying to accomplish has become. This tends to make you take your right foot and begin to lower it down, and as you begin to think you are not strong enough or brave enough or cool enough you will begin to feel your toes grip the rung one down. In those next moments you will watch your hope dive off the high dive and float down, down, down.
But wait: there’s a punk present. You know that dude that has to put everyone in their place so as to ensure his position at the top? Well, he’s there, and he sees you falter. A smiles spreads across his face, displaying such euphoria that it seems he’s about to tell the cameras, “I’m going to Disneyland!” He gathers his minions and you see him cover his mouth and begin laughing. Then his finger points and everybody turns as he lays out so eloquently, “What are you scared? Are you chicken Bwak Bwak?” I can only assume that this hunk of awesome went on to become a speech writer. And though that moment felt like something I would never be able to recover from, that nasty punk forgot who I was.
Staring him down, I said no. I am not scared. And I walked each rung one by one. I stepped up on the board and walked the length as if I had done it many times before.
The farther out I ventured, the more the board shuffled up and down and up and down. My only comfort at this point was remembering that since I would be hitting the water from such a great height, my impending death would be quick and painless. So I jumped. I made a weird muffled squeak/squeal on my way down. I clearly remember my feet looking like they were waving to all my naysayers on the way down as I tried to discern when the end would come. After going down, down, down into the water I shot up and burst out of the water smiling. Not as much because I enjoyed it but because no tiny punk is going to tell me what I can and can’t do.
So maybe you’ve stopped and realized how scary this thing you are trying to accomplish really is. You might be lowering your right foot down, and you can feel the next rung down with your big toe. And maybe someone is trying to make you feel small and you see that as a sign that you do not have what it takes. There is a sign, but that’s not what the sign says. The sign says, “I’m sorry tiny punk but we must not have met previously. Whether I’m scared or not has very little to do with whether I am going to show up and show down. As I take one step at a time and am brave enough to cling to my pile of courage and jump off this mountain I’ve been climbing far longer than you’ve been pointing I’m becoming something great. And you are gathering people to laugh at a girl who just moved that mountain and taught it how to fly.”