Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting Beyond the Doubt

One thing a lot of people don't know about me is that I was a cheerleader in high school. The way it happened was a total fluke, and in different circumstances, I would never have been able to claim that coveted title of "Varsity Cheerleader."

See, I wasn't terribly athletic. I didn't like to run or do much physical activity. I was never into sports. I was a "band" geek (and I still have the clarinet I played in the band for six years ... and I can still play pretty well, too ;), and I was one of the "smart" kids (my sophomore class schedule included Algebra II, French II, Advanced Biology, and Psychology/Sociology :).

But my best friend was this girl who liked to push the envelope, and at the beginning of our junior year, she decided she was going to try-out for the Boys' Varsity cheerleading squad. She had been a cheerleader before. She talked me into trying out, too. I had never been a cheerleader before. I even hated P.E. class.

Anyway ....

We went through the process of getting teacher recommendations and learning the cheer and coming up with our own cheer and learning the "dance" routine.

Then, a week or so before try-outs, she decides she's not gonna, but it was too late for me. I was never allowed to just quit. I always had to finish what I started.

So, I tried out, and I sucked. Seriously. I was not good ... not even a little bit.

And I didn't make the squad.

Oh, well. Life goes on, right? I tried. I failed.

But the next day ...

The cheerleading coach was one of the English teachers in the school, and she really wanted a squad with intelligent, young women. She wanted the cheerleaders to be taken more seriously as model students and athletes.

So, when she saw my grades and my teacher recommendations, she decided that the squad needed some alternates. I was one of two.

And then, even before the school year started, we had two girls leave the school ... and I was on the squad, not as an alternate, but as a cheerleader.

But I still sucked, in the beginning.

Over time, with a lot of practice, I improved, and by the end of the basketball season, I was a "cheerleader."

I didn't try-out the next year, because, while I liked being a cheerleader, and I was good at it, I wasn't cut out for the high school politics associated with being a school athlete.

I have a lot of stories like that in my life - where I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried something I never thought I was cut out to do, and in the end, I realized that I could do it, and I could do an okay job of it.

Not perfect, but what is perfection, anyway? right?

I'm not perfect, but I'm always 100% sure when I start something. I'm not always 100% sure I'll succeed, but if I decide to commit myself to a task, I'm 100% positive that it's something I want to do. There's never any 99.9999∞% that it's what I want. Because to allow that little bit of doubt, that nth%, even in mock jest, would be to invite failure. Even a tiny trickle of water will, given enough time, wear away the most sturdy of boulders.

I was a cheerleader, and I was good at it, but when the year ended, it was time to move on. Sometimes there are parts of our lives that are like that. We know it's something we want, and we do it, and we do it well, but then, sometimes we have to just grab the tiger by the tail and admit that it's time to move on, especially if we're no longer 100% sure it's where we want to be. Sometimes, we just shouldn't suck it up and accept that this is our lot in life ... it's not a lot, but it's our life.

I was a cheerleader, and that experience taught me a lot about myself - a lot of good things. I came out of it stronger (both physically and mentally) and with a greater sense of who I was and what I was capable of doing.

But being a cheerleader was not the defining moment of my life, and I don't pine away wishing for my "glory days." I still have everything I had back then (although I'm not quite as cute as I was ;), plus a lot more.

Our past shapes who we are, but it doesn't dictate who we will be.

My garden and my homesteading efforts are like that, for me. I've made a lot of mistakes. In fact, my whole homesteading experience has been a series of missteps that taught me something, and even after twelve years of having a garden, I hesitate to even call myself a gardener for fear of insulting those people who really are "gardeners."

The most important thing I've learned with gardening, though, is that everything does have a season. When one season is over, we must move into the next season, and not try desparately to hold on to those last vestiges of what once was. We have to know when to pluck the green tomatoes off the vine, pull the plants and mulch the bed for winter.

Today, I've read a lot of blog posts relating "failed" gardening experiences this year. I would encourage, instead, considering them stepping stones, and if growing one's own food really is the goal, to plow under the weeds that ate summer's harvest and start planting for fall ... or winter ... or for next spring.

But don't let the trickle of doubt erode the boulder ... unless the boulder is in the way of what you really want.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree - so long as we learn as we go, nothing we do can be considered a failure. :)