Joyfully Terrible


When I’m in ballet class, sometimes I forget that I’m probably the only one there wearing size 11 ballet shoes and a plus sized leotard. I forget that I’ll never be good at ballet. I watch myself in the mirror and I forget that I’m supposed to be embarrassed about the size of my thighs.

I forget these things because after year (YEARS) of being too afraid to try things that I’m not good at, I’ve finally gotten (mostly) over myself and have decided that the sole criteria I’m going to use to determine if I get to do something is not “am I good enough to do this” but “will doing this thing, even poorly, make me happy?”

I have one child who appears to have inherited my tendency toward perfectionism and it is hard to watch him get so frustrated with himself when his drawing doesn’t look the way he wants it to or if he misses a shot at soccer. It feels so familiar to me and it makes me want to figure out how to teach him to let himself off the hook and to embrace the freedom that comes from deciding to do what you love whether you are good at it or not.

It took me a few decades to get there. I hope he can find his way there sooner.



3 thoughts on “Joyfully Terrible

  1. M.A. says:

    I know and have used that figure of speech about kids “inheriting” these kinds of things from their parents, but I really don’t believe that’s true. And I know that in the past as a parent, I worried more than I needed to, felt guilty unnecessarily, and added pressure to situations because I was afraid that my son had inherited traits from me that I had to make up for by making him overcome them. I recognized eventually that hating a certain characteristic in my kids was another way of hating myself, which in turn blocked me from the thing my kids needed most: my unconditional acceptance and love. Kids are who they are, and whoever they are, they will have aspects of themselves they will struggle with and have to learn to be at peace with. I suspect your son will be the same, not because he inherited something from you but because he’s a human being. And I also know that your love for him sustains him every day much more than any personality trait he gets from you will ever harm him. And every time he sees you doing things just for the love of it, regardless of your mastery of those things, that’s another gift you’re giving him by your actions and being who you are.

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