You Never Know Until You Try

You know that feeling when you look at someone else and see what they can do and you think: I will never be able to do that? That sinking feeling of inferiority? I used to watch my friends in high school run cross country or sew some piece of clothing or do their make-up and that’s what I would think. I will never be able to do that. And even though I’ve proved myself wrong again and again simply by trying to do something that I never thought I would be able to do, I still do it. I still say, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that. (Although I have yet to master the make-up thing . . . but it isn’t as important to me as it once was.)

Some other things I never thought I would be able to do until I tried:

  • Run a marathon
  • Give birth
  • Bake red velvet cake from scratch
  • Sew something worth wearing (I’m not sure I’ve made anything that I can wear, but the menchildren wear things I make)
  • Convince someone to marry me
  • Play on a sports team and actually contribute (so what if it is just a game of pick-up Ultimate? I still play. )
  • Go to grad school
  • Get something published

Despite all this evidence to the contrary, I still do it. Even worse, I do it with my kids. I watched Manchild 1 struggle with the swing at Grandma’s house a few weeks ago. His cousins, both about a year older than him, would climb onto the bench under the tree, grab hold of the swing’s rope, and jump. They’d swing and swing and look so carefree and easy. And I thought, “My kid will never be able to do that.” Which was silly, of course. Someday he would learn to do that. He’s not going to go to college and be too afraid or uncoordinated or whatever to hold onto a rope. But he would not be able to do it when he was still young enough for it to be an exciting accomplishment. Who knew when we would have the chance to swing on a rope swing again in our neighborhood?

The next day, after his cousins had gone, he wanted to swing. At first he needed me to hold the swing while he climbed on, one leg at a time, from the ground. Then he got a little bolder and climbed onto the bench and asked me to hold the swing while he climbed on one leg at a time. It took a lot of reassuring before he was okay with me letting go so he could actually swing, but it happened. Then the next time it was a little bit easier, then easier still. And within 10 minutes he was jumping off the bench and onto the swing like he was born to do it. So carefree and easy. And so fun for me to watch him and know that he was having a great time. I still feel silly for thinking he would never be able to do it, and bad that I didn’t give him the credit he deserved. Because he can do anything he really wants to do.

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  1. So true! Needed to hear this as I contemplate my first marathon. Thanks!


  2. I love this. I think sometimes that so many things hold me back from doing new or different things – and then once I do them I realize that it was so easy! I think it is partly the fear of the unknown. We are capable of so much more than we think we are!


  3. lizzie

    July 28th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Oh, Katy, good luck! I’m sure you can do it. It takes a lot of training, but it is such a great feeling to cross the finish line and know that you’ve done something really, really hard.

    And Catlin, I so relate. It’s not so bad to talk to people I don’t know at church, but I’m always afraid to do it. I just wish I could remember how much I enjoy doing new things when I’m in the fearful moment.


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