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I’ve been doing some introspective thinking lately (Wait. Is that redundant? Not sure…and moving on.) I’ve been reflecting on and praying about how I don’t like to do tasks badly and never want to look foolish. In one sense, it seems to be a reasonable expectation to not want to look like/be a fool. As I look at my attachment to this ideal, I find myself grasping for it and worrying about maintaining some sort of image or persona for my own pride. By making appearances of perfection my motivation (or measuring stick) for doing trying an activity, it becomes as an impediment to awesome new experiences. It gets in the way of truly enjoying the activity I am doing, of truly loving myself, and truly living a joyful life. Appearances are not everything.

Two years ago, I was arriving back home from my semester studying abroad in France, where I had loads of fun, had some lonely times, and learned big life lessons. I learned that: 1) mistakes are often the very best teachers 2) I have issues with people perceiving me foolish, ignorant, stupid, mean, ugly, blah, blah, blah… Well, when one is a foreigner, anything goes! You can feel stupid and isolated for struggling with learning a new language. You’re learning! Duh! Of course you will mess up because you don’t know what you are doing! That’s life and life is a beautiful, wonderful, thrilling, scary experience. And you don’t have to be your idea of perfect. I find that often my idea of perfect is not perfection at all.

I was recently watching a TEDtalks video on Youtube. The title caught my eye as my profession is education: Do schools kill creativity?  He asserts that our school systems end up conditioning kids to fear making mistakes. Success is the only option. Failure is scary and terrible and the worst thing that can happen.

In the talk, he points out that kids will take a chance. They will try something, succeed, fail, whatever. They are not afraid of being wrong. He clarifies that “being wrong is not the same as being creative but if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original.” And from my own personal experience and observations, most adults have lost this fearlessness. Adults tend to be frightened to be wrong in a culture that stigmatized mistakes. He further argues that our education systems are educating people out of their creative capacities. It’s all pretty interesting, I think. I won’t go into detail on his arguments. He does a good job of it on his own so the video is the way to go!

When did I allow fear of trying something new become a choke hold for me? How do I undo it?

I don’t know. But, I will just live one day at a time doing little creative acts, remind myself to chill, and ask our Heavenly Father for courage and guidance.

So today I rode bike. I’ve had a bizarre hesitancy in riding bike out in public for a little while now. I’m not sure where it started and the more I write about it, the more stupid it sounds. Maybe my logic goes a little something like this: Since I don’t ride bike very much, I think I’ll probably do it badly (I’ll fall or not be able to turn around well, thus looking dumb or I’ll be confused about where to ride my bike, what streets I can go on easily, where I will be able to lock up my bike once I get to my destination). Oh my gosh. Writing all that down makes me see how ridiculous my logic has been.

Well, I shall attempt to redeem myself in my readers’ eyes. Today, I rode bike. And it was nice. And the world didn’t end.

Later, I wrote in chalk and misspelled something really basic. It was humbling and good for me to make a mistake. It made me feel dumb for a little bit, then I thanked God for allowing me to make a mistake. It reminded me how weak I am and how much I need Him. I somewhat salvaged my misspelling and the world did not end. J