When I was in fourth grade, I signed up for an after school track and field program. I don't know if I had any real interest in the sport, but for whatever reason I decided to give it a try. Did I like it? No! I hated it! After the season ended (I may have even quit early) I never did track and field again, except when I was forced to in P.E.
Fast forward to a few years ago. I discover that not only do I like sprinting, I'm actually kind of decent at it. How is it that I hated it when I was 10? How is it that it took me so long to figure out that I am capable of running fast? How?
Oh, I know. Because I listened to naysayers. In this case, it was a classmate who had also signed up for track and field.
"You should not have joined track," she said one day on the school bus.
"Why not? I replied.
"Because you are not going to win any races!" she answered. And I believed her.
I recorded this story in my fourth grade journal, which is how I know that this is not just a figment of my imagination. It was a journal that we had to turn in to our teacher each week. After reading this particular entry, my teacher commented "how would she know?"
I wish I would have listened to my teacher and not the mean classmate, because looking back on my life I can see that this was just one of many instances in which I let naysayers control me. You can't do X because of Y. Really? Oh, OK. I guess I won't do that then. And it probably goes without saying, but one of the biggest naysayers in my life has been ... me. I've talked myself out of many, many things for some pretty ridiculous reasons. All because I thought I didn't have the skills, the time, the money, the brains, whatever.
I'm so over the naysayers. I know I am still going to encounter them, and I know there will be times that I revert back to my old naysaying ways. I'm glad, though, that I am now aware of this tendency in myself and aware of the way in which naysayers try to drag others down because it is helping me stay true to my beliefs about what to feed my daughter, about how to properly exercise and about the choices Carl and I are making in regards to our lifestyle (yep, we're going to raise some chickens and grow some vegetables in our new backyard -- which, oddly, seems strange to some people). The old me probably would have let the critics have too much control over my decisions and choices. Maybe it is weird to give my child cod liver oil or to let her snack on roasted seaweed? Maybe I am depriving her by not serving mac-and-cheese every day for lunch. Maybe raising our own chickens is a silly idea. Um, no. Now, when I have an idea, I weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that is best for me and my family. I am confident in my choices. Honest feedback and good advice from trusted sources are welcome. But the naysayers? They have no bearing on what I choose to do or what I can achieve in my life.
As for the fourth grade bully, I would love to challenge her now to a 400m sprint.