It was in second grade. In the corner of the classroom sat a brown wooden stool and a dunce cap. We never had to wear it, it was just a reminder of the past. Our teacher was in her 80’s and would regularly remind us of the old days. Her 1990’s version of the dunce cap was making students stand in the garbage can when they disrupted class. It was funny unless you were the one standing in garbage. You were singled out. Embarrassed in front of the whole class. You felt like trash.
This is one of my earliest memories of school. I was seeing what the consequences were for doing something wrong. Kids started to assume that if they spoke up, took chances or even did the goofy things that kids are supposed to do, they’d get in trouble. After a while, I figured out that being able to define what certain people considered as right or wrong was nearly impossible. I stopped being myself and started being what I was told a “student” was.
We all have a similar story. A moment in our lives when we started defining the world as right or wrong. The good guys and the bad guys. And without realizing it, these ideas planted little weeds in our minds. Weeds that said if you make a mistake, something bad will come of it. You will become the bad guy. You’ll end up the outcast. These moments shaped us. We catered to what we were told we should be instead of who we were.
When we’re young we don’t have the ability to comprehend this stuff. And many years later we’re still afraid to make mistakes. We’re afraid of doing something wrong. We cater to our fears by avoiding anything that brings them up. We rarely take chances. We refuse to try anything new. We give up on following our dreams. We stop being ourselves.
We’ve been conditioned to stay in little boxes. I still see pieces of second grade me, today. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t really matter if we get rejected or if we make mistakes. At the end of the day, we have to be the ones that like ourselves. One millions fans won’t fill the void in your heart. On the last day of your life, the only mistakes that you’ll remember are the ones that you never gave yourself the opportunity to make.
Certain characteristics we’ve adopted from our past no longer have to apply. We don’t have to continue to be hard on ourselves. We don’t have to be afraid that something will go wrong at every turn. Things happen, its part of life. We don’t have to rattle our brains trying to figure out the next best move. Trying to solve a problem before it even exists actually creates a problem. Let’s not complicate things.
I’d encourage you to face your fear of making mistakes. If you feel like you’re carrying too much, start writing it out. Get to know all of it. Become close friends with it. Give it the respect it needs. Then practice letting go. One thing at a time. It might take a day, a week, a month or a year. It doesn’t matter. It’s your unique journey, there’s no blueprint. It’s ok to be you.
You’ve been carrying rocks from your past for a long time. You aren’t your past. Put the rocks down and feel your life become lighter. There’s something new in every moment. Notice what pulls you away from peace and start your work there.
Pull the weeds. Try things. Give yourself a chance. Be you.