When I was seven years old, my mother took me out of ballet, telling me I was the clumsiest girl in the class.
I loved ballet, had learned all the positions for my feet (flawlessly, from my point of view), and knew all the French designations by heart. For years, I smoldered inwardly at the injustice of my mother’s action. Still, I believed her, quickly becoming the first person at the party to spill the peanuts and the last one in class to be picked for any athletic team. Clearly, in those days, and for longer in my life than I would have wished,
I often allowed others to draw the lines for me between possible and impossible.
In fact, it took me until the age of 53 to challenge my notions of physical ability by heeding the opportunity to join a group of professional colleagues in a week-long Outward Bound Adventure in the Boundary Waters of Upper Minnesota. I had spent the preceding 53 years doing everything I could to cover-up my shameful clumsiness and to remain as physically safe as possible. After signing up for the trip and with no positive experience to back me up, the only thing I could do to keep myself from coming unglued was to fill the very specific clothing list with color coordinated items from secondhand and thrift stores, and pray that I wouldn’t kill or maim myself, ending my life prematurely or having to live forever with the consequences. Naturally, my mother thought I had lost my mind but, in this case, she wasn’t the only one. Most of my friends thought I was crazy, and so did I. Still, I knew I had to do it.
Gradually, in my adult life, I had begun to take risks in new or wider areas.
But they were usually risks in which potential success still had an edge. Possibility began to overtake impossibility as I found I could either succeed or, even more important, fail, but live to tell the tale. Before the days of professional realtor training, I studied and obtained a state real estate license when at first I wasn’t even sure how to find my way downtown to the review class, much less calculate commissions, or navigate around previously unknown parts of town. I became a theater director where my talents would be judged by strangers and reviewed in print. An opportunity came my way to join a professional communication consulting firm where I was invited to take on the challenge of creating Listening Training. One step ahead of my adult students at first, I ran around the country between assignments, attending every kind of course and workshop I could find in order to become expert in a field in which I’d happily found my niche, but at first felt like an imposter.
I learned that fear of failure was a huge barrier to success and that failure itself was sometimes painful, but also a productive teacher, and often more valuable in helping me to dare something else I might have previously considered impossible than all the successes and praise in the world. It made me tougher. It made me more flexible and limber. It gave me confidence in my ability to survive.
Of course, some risks—some possibilities are born of ignorance. If I had known how hard it was to sustain a marriage, raise four children, delve into my psyche in hopes of greater growth, buy tech stocks before the crash, or enter the dating world again a few years after my husband of 52 years had died, I might never have gone into those enterprises with such alacrity. I’m glad I didn’t know better because, if I had, I would have missed much of the joy and sweetness of my life along with the struggles that have and continue to nourish and hone me.
One thing I’ve learned for certain. You have to put yourself out there in order to invite possibility into your life.
There is a story about a man who had lived a long and God-fearing life. Nearing the end of it, he began to pray to win the lottery. He wanted to know his family would have financial security when he was gone. Every night he prayed, but every day somebody else was the winner. Finally, in deep prayer, he asked God why, having been such a humble servant, his prayer was not being answered. Out of the deep silence came a voice.
“Meet me halfway,” it boomed.
“Buy a ticket.”
When I was studying for a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistics, during a segment on limiting beliefs, I stood up and told this story to my classmates. Some weeks later, one of them, the Vice President of a hospital, told me she was approached by a member of a Guild asking her to buy a raffle ticket. At first she refused due to the theory that she never won anything so why waste her money. Then she remembered the story I told and, considering the cause to be a good one, she shelled out $25 for one ticket. The grand prize was a trip for two to Paris. Amazingly, she won it. Meet me halfway, buy a ticket! Neither of us will ever forget the power of that message.
How many times I have put myself out there, met the world and possibility halfway and won, is incalculable now. How many times have I kept my energy hidden away, inadvertently making the possible impossible? I only hope that now, as I age and the world of limitations comes calling (this time in an inevitable alignment with the finite nature of life), I may have the wisdom to recognize that some new kind of possibility continues to remain around the next corner—if only I have the courage to meet it half way.
Linda Albert has lectured, designed, and taught workshops nationally for over three decades. A communication and life coach with a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistics, Linda holds Archetypal Pattern Analyst and Dream Translator certifications from the Assisi Institute, which is led by Jungian analyst Michael Conforti, Ph.D. Her academic thesis was titled To Everything there is a Season: The Archetype of Aging. An internationally published award-winning writer, poet, and former theater director, she resides in Sarasota, FL. Visit her online at www.lindaalbert.net.