Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Trying

It's amazing how so many people are discouraged from something because they believe they can't. And why do they believe they can't do it? Because they haven't tried it. And why don't they try it, because they believe they can't do it. So many people have fallen prisoners to their own minds. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those who believes you can do anything if you put your mind to it, but I believe that you can never really find out what you can do till you've given it a shot. 

All my childhood and teenage memories revolve around that similar feeling of not believing I can, but my experiences have been different. I was surrounded by two people who managed to change my ideas about myself and others. 

The first of which was my mother, who always told me two things. First that I had to try anything before deciding whether I could do something or not and second that I have to practice anything before deciding whether I could be good at it. Every time I would go up to my mother and tell her that I really loved something but didn't know if I could do it she would tell me to try. She kept telling me that my knowledge was without basis if I didn't have the experience to back it up, and so I should try; look for what I want to do and try it. Every time I went up to her and told her I enjoyed something but didn't know if I would be any good at it, she would tell me to practice. I found out through experience that we're sometimes limited by our own conception of ourselves and that it would cost us almost nothing to find out what we were capable of. In years to come, I would tell my mother advice on how to do things. She would tell me that she can't. I told her the same things she had been telling me all my life, you need to try first before saying that you can't. 

The other person to influence me but in a different manner was my father. My father is a difficult role model to emulate. He is confident, charismatic and very daring. Those who know me know very well how daring and confident I usually am, but I'm nowhere close to where my father's at. I lack his sense of humour (as is evident) and his ability to invent solutions to complex situations on the fly. As a child I was daring, but every time I hesitated about doing something slightly risky, my father would be there for me, telling me to go ahead, explaining the risks and how they can be avoided. He always pushed me to test my limits. He encouraged me to be adventurous but not wreckless. I remember once wanting to jump from the top of an anchored yacht into the deep sea that surrounded it. The yacht's roof was considerably high. I said I wanted to do it, but because so many people were against it and pointed out the danger, I hesitated despite my father's encouragement. I stared into the sea hoping to work up the nerve. My father came up next to me and said it wasn't that difficult and jumped in, just like that without any warning. I wasn't the only one that followed, many got encouraged to jump in the same manner. I learnt that sometimes people don't do things because they haven't seen anyone do it before. I learned to weigh the risks instead of being wreckless but not let my caution interfere with my adventure.

Whenever anyone tells me that they can't do a certain something, I ask for their experience with it, and how often they've tried and how much they've lost. I don't accept that people understand their own limitations without trying. I know that humans are capable of so much as is evident by the test of circumstances. Some people are tried by life, even without trying. In many cases they discover they were capable of so much more, so much more.

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