Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Facing Fear: A lesson from the life of a 6 year old.

When my 6 year old got off the bus she looked a little sad. I asked her how the dress rehearsal for her school play went. She let her older siblings do the talking.

Every year at my children's school, every grade presents a play.  They perform in front of the school for their dress rehearsal and then perform again that same evening for the parents.  It turns out that this year my little girl had a bad case of stage fright.  The older children told me that as soon as the curtains opened they could hear someone crying, loudly.  They wondered who it was and then saw their little sister walking off of the stage to her teacher standing in the wings.

She didn't perform one bit. Didn't even try and sing along with the other kids.

That evening my husband and I considered what we should do about the evening performance.  Should we even take her to the play that night? She didn't want to go.  She was terrified. We didn't want to scar her, making things worse by forcing her to go. She wouldn't be missed seeing how she was one of the many choir members. Plus the parking is awful, and it's hard to find a seat. We would have all enjoyed a quiet evening home.

But we couldn't stay home.  We couldn't miss an opportunity to let our little one conquer her fear.  We had to let her try. I held her close and told her if she needed to walk off stage again that it was ok.  But she should at least go and try. She had worked so hard learning all the songs and dances. I let her know that I believed in her. Those simple words were enough to encourage her to go.

I walked her to her classroom where all her classmates were waiting for curtain call, everyone in costume and good spirits. She walked right in and started to talk to the kids. Her teacher met me at the door. Her teacher looked a little surprised that I brought her.  She emphasized that the dress rehearsal did not go well... at all.  In a bit of explanation I told her, "We had to let her face her fear. We had to let her try." An exit plan was arranged in case of tears and I went back to the gym to elbow my way into a seat, perhaps even one with a view of the stage!

The curtains opened to reveal all of the children standing on stage, mostly on risers. I held my breath as the music started, my eyes focused on the tiny girl in the yellow shirt.  She had been strategically placed right on the end, close to her teacher. I let out a sigh of relief as she sang along with the others. She sang and danced the whole performance.  She did it.

She was so happy when I picked her back up. She was full of pride and accomplishment. It was worth the parking and seating, worth the risk of embarrassment or potential scaring.  We didn't come to this life to hide in the wings. I couldn't let her hide or she would have never known the joy of success!

Some of us feel like we are not as happy or fulfilled as we should be in life. Sometimes we see others rejoicing in success and wonder why that never seems to happen to us.  Could it be that we are hiding in the wings?

I had to ask myself that question as we left the school that night? A 6 year old just showed me how rewarding it is to try again, to get back up, to face a fear.  A 6 year old just reminded me that success is worth the risk of failure.

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