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I’ve recently had an interesting experience I would like to share with all of you. One of my close friends just celebrated her birthday and as part of her celebration we went bowling. I hadn’t been bowling (aside from Wii bowling which feels quite different) in years and to go back to the bowling alley from my hometown was a huge blast from the past. The building has turned old and decrepit since then due to a lack of business. Despite these obvious changes, I retreated into a state of nostalgia remembering all the times I had gone there as a teenager with my friends.
Throughout my life I’ve developed what you might call some “interesting” habits. I’ve always been somewhat self-conscious. Unfortunately, this concept has truly affected how I take on different tasks in my life. When I was a teenager my lack of confidence integrated itself into how I felt about my abilities. It was like every time I tried to do something there was someone there telling me that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Somehow I got the idea that if I felt negative about my ability to do something; the only answer was to not try at all. Not trying completely eliminated the chance that I could feel crappy about my performance because it would never be a true test of my abilities. So, whenever I would go bowling with friends, for example, I would roll the ball towards the pins with the least amount of effort possible, visibly not caring if it hit the pins. Of course I ended each game with the lowest score possible but it never really mattered to me…until now.
During this recent trip to the bowling alley I noticed myself intentionally sabotaging my chances of getting a decent score and took a second to analyze the situation. I thought to myself: I’m not even really giving myself a fair chance to succeed if I don’t even try. How could I be so certain that I would fail? I was cheating myself out of a good time and depriving myself of the possibility of feeling like I’d done a good job. Not to mention it was all because I was scared of doing what I was doing intentionally anyway. After about my third turn I decided it was time to actually try. It wasn’t as easy as it may sound. I was quite nervous the first time; it was almost like ripping off a Band-Aid. I had to just bite my tongue, quite in my inhibitions and try. I knew I just had to accept the possibility of failing and know that I would be okay if it happened.
Thankfully, I was able to achieve a decent score and I actually had fun! It felt good to know I had actually tried. This may not always be the case though. In reality, I might have performed equally as poorly as I did when I didn’t try. But by allowing myself to actually engage in activities I am also opening myself up to the possibility to self-improvement. From this space, I would be able to analyze my true abilities and determine what I would need to do to improve.
Most importantly, I was able to overcome my self-consciousness and do something I feared. Allowing confidence issues to plague my mind diminished the quality of the life experiences I was having. It felt good to know that I was actually able to shrug that feeling off. If you’re feeling self-conscious about something, I hope you are able to find hope in this story. My experience might have been a lot easier than some of yours might be. It may take a couple tries to shake that self-conscious feeling off and that is perfectly fine! Just know that whether you fly or fail, the true loss is to allow your happiness to be crippled by fear. So, give yourself a fair chance to experience and enjoy life. Try something new or re-try something you may not have allowed yourself to really try in the first place! I hope that you fly but if you fail, know that it’s okay. Find joy in your ability to let go and have fun!
Adrienne (BA Psychology) is a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) student at Fanshawe College, currently on placement with mindyourmind. She has a passion for psychology and mental wellness, and loves working with children and youth. In her spare time, Adrienne enjoys nature, discovering new music and visiting with her niece "Ella" (while secretly analyzing her developmental milestones).
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