Somewhere around third grade I decided it was better to not try if there was a remote possibility of failing. My parents did everything right--showering me with praise, encouraging me to do my best, but not pushing me too hard. They rarely showed any disappointment in me, though I'm sure they must have felt let down on more than one occasion. Looking back, I wonder if they were troubled by my so-obvious insecurity.
When I tried out for the community play, I mumbled my lines and sang so softly the directors could barely hear. I got a part in the play, but not the one I really wanted.
I didn't dare run for student council in middle school or high school, though I desperately wanted to be on the leadership team. I couldn't face the humiliation of running for office and possibly not being elected.
Too intimidated by the older players, I didn't give it my all when I tried out for the volleyball team, so I was cut twice.
Much to my parents' dismay, I didn't apply for any scholarships, fearing I would be turned away.
In college, I didn't go after the journalism degree I really wanted because I was convinced I would fail college level calculus.
There have been so many times in my life I should have just gone for it and tried my best, but I held back--terrified of failure. It's as if I was afraid to show my vulnerability.
Unfortunately, I think Julie suffers from this same lack of self-confidence and fear of failure. As soon as she struggles with something, she gives up.
When she sensed the other girls in soccer were beyond her talent-wise, she decided she would run away from the ball. "I don't want to get a goal!" Julie yelled on the field. Later she told us she didn't want to try to get a goal because she was convinced the goalie would block it. She felt the same way about running, gymnastics, dance, horseback riding and most recently even swimming. Julie is an outstanding swimmer for a seven-year-old, but recently she has become discouraged because she hasn't moved out of her current swimming level. Instead of pushing harder, determined to pass to the next level, she decided she's not good enough.
Today was a perfect example of this attitude. Julie was invited to an ice skating party for a friend's birthday. She was unsure whether she wanted to go because she's "terrible" at ice skating. I finally convinced her to go, she had a great time and by the end of the night she was skating on her own and so completely proud of herself.
"I did it Mommy and it was fun," Julie said, smiling as we walked to the car at the end of the night.
Times like these Scott and I know we need to push Julie through the struggle or plateau or bad attitude, and make her realize she truly can do anything she sets her mind to.