Yesterday, with a steady flow of tears and an abundance of nervous energy, we sent my 10 year old son off to sleep away camp for one month.
For the second summer… for his second time.
Here was last year’s post, exactly a year ago… the first time.
I just sent my son off to sleepaway camp for his first time, for a month-long stay. In a perfect world: I should be partying. FREEDOM! Truth: I have a splitting headache and my eyes look as if I’ve been punched by Rocky Balboa. All of a sudden, it feels hard to breathe. I know that he asked to go away this summer, I just have a very heavy heart. I wish I could be like the moms who smile and wave, and off go their kids, merrily on their way, as the bus drives off into the distance. Unfortunately, that’s not me, not my husband, and not my kid. He’s attached, I’m attached, and it’s the only way I’ve known how to raise my kids – in the bosom of uber amounts of nurturing, affection and love. I’ll spare you the gory details, but truth is, it was very rough on him.
So, my favorite word shows itself once again. As my son starts a journey of his own, his first journey without his safety net, I send him an expression of good wishes, albeit from afar. But today, my heart feels broken.
Some days, motherhood is a bitch.
Fast forward one year to yesterday. The second time. It’s a whole new world!! Yes, as I explained above, tears and butterflies no question, but there is something about firsts– once we can get past the first time, the world opens up for us.
Sending him on the bus yesterday for the second time really made me want to write a blog post about firsts today. It’s an interesting concept.
First times push us out of comfort zone. Firsts make us scared. Why? There’s no baseline with a first. No comparison. We are venturing out into unchartered waters… we’re out on that ledge looking down into the unknown. Every first is new. Every first is scary. Think back to your firsts – your first job, your first boyfriend, losing your virginity, giving birth the first time, your first kiss. Firsts are like no other. It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s endorphins and cortisol all mixed together into one wild experience.
But what happens the second time? The third time? Ahhh… The baseline? The comparison? The familiarity? It’s all there. You are more of an expert. You are more of a pro. You’ve been there, done that.
Sounds easy, but many of us actually don’t show up to enough firsts. Many of us are currently walking around or shall I say “sitting” around on our comfy fences (this blog is called Women On The Fence after all), hence the metaphor. Many of us are actually paralyzed from making decisions which could actually IMPROVE our lives.
So what would stop you from experiencing growth and happiness? For most, it’s fear of failure. People don’t get off the fence and try new firsts because they’re afraid. Afraid of many things, but mostly afraid of failing. And then they make excuses– both to others, and to themselves. But here’s the thing… personal growth comes from repetition. It comes from trying the first time, and learning for the second.
It’s interesting, two other things also breed “stuckness” — complacency and perfectionism. Complacency keeps us satisfied with the status quo, and it keeps us exactly where we are– not moving forward nor growing. But perfectionism also keeps us stuck and on the fence– we’re afraid that if we don’t do it perfectly correct, then it’s considered failure. And so we don’t even show up to the first. We don’t even try. And we miss out because of it.
The lesson in today’s blog post is about pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone to try more firsts. That old cheesy saying to try one thing a day that scares you or pushes you outside your comfort zone is actually good advice. Why? Because challenging yourself brings opportunities, and challenging yourself brings growth.
So after thinking about my son, and how he struggled to make it through his first time last year, this year there’s an air of lightness. He’s lighter, I’m lighter, and we know better. There’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment derived from completing the first. It makes us wanna try again. If you deny yourself the courage to try a first, you will miss out. Think of a baby’s first step. They take it, they fall, they get back up, then step again. Two steps forward, one step back.
I think we must give it a try. Firsts are new beginnings. Start with a baby step. Work your way up. Risk every day. There is nothing like a first, but there is nothing like the second time. The second time is when we start to reap the rewards.