The Courage of Tiny Humans

October 24, 2022

One beautiful morning last week, my husband and I were laying poolside in Mexico as the sun cast itself upon our legs. We were enjoying our morning coffee when a staff member walked across the shallow pool. She made her way into the deeper end as two older women followed. It was time for the morning pool workout.

Slowly, the group grew in number. I watched from the side as they began their warm-up. Shortly after they began, I watched as a little girl, no older than 5, walked toward the group. She circled her arms as the group did, inflatable lifesavers around each arm, and joined right in. I kept watching, unable to take my eyes off them, when my husband leaned over and asked, “you want to join them, don’t you? Go do it.”
I jumped right in and made my way over to the deep end. They had already shifted into the full workout when I got into the group. At this point, everyone sitting around the poolside was watching. All different ages and ability levels had gathered to get some morning movement in. Soon enough, the little girl was too little to do some of the movements, so her mom jumped in to assist. She kept up with the entire group throughout the lesson, even when the floats on her arm prevented her from stretching her arms. It was adorable.

That little girl has been on my mind since that morning. She was so sweet and ready to jump in. She wasn’t concerned about what anyone else may have thought of her and she kept going when the movement got a little difficult. She wasn’t concerned with how she looked; she was just having fun. At 31 years old, my husband had to give me an extra push to jump in and join.

Just a few months ago, my birthday actually, my husband took me rock climbing for the first time. It was February in Minnesota, so we were inside on a climbing wall. I was praying the whole way there that the facility would be empty and I could learn on my own. Again, it was February in Minnesota, so the bitterly cold temperatures kept everyone inside. The facility was packed that morning.

When I looked around the room, I saw so many little kids learning to take their first climb alongside other kids who already looked like experts. I was nervous, but they inspired me. They were so little and so brave. One little girl gave it a few tries on the very route I was about to climb. When she was ready to be done, she said so. There was no changing her mind. I loved watching her courage and confidence grow.
As a speaker, I’m often asked how to strengthen self-confidence. I think there’s a lot we can learn from these two courageous girls. There’s no concern for what other people will think at such an early age. Unfortunately, that time of child-like awe and exploration is short-lived when we transition into adulthood. As adults, the priority shifts from trying and learning to succeeding and measuring up. The fear of failure, embarrassment, shame, and more stop too many of us from really living our lives.

Even as a writer, I worry that sharing these words will reveal a vulnerability I’m not entirely comfortable sharing. What if I’m just not that good? What if the belief that I’m a gifted writer is just delusional? What if my grammar and spelling aren’t perfect? What if people think I’m silly, uneducated, or ignorant? When the focus shifts from joy to being perfect, fear wins.

So, just like that little girl in Mexico, I’m jumping in. I may not be able to swim in the deep end yet, but I know help will come when needed. What are you waiting to jump into? Can you reclaim the story by seeking joy instead of trying to be perfect for everyone? Maybe it’s time to reconnect with the courageous child in you and simply try.

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