I recently had the seal go out on my toilet. I have known that it was going and been ignoring it probably for far too long. Now it was just done.
So, I set about replacing the seal and the toilet.
Most people probably would have just called a plumber to come and do this. However, I am too stubborn and naively stupid to do that. My brother has always been one to take things apart to see how they worked and I am apparently a late-bloomer in that department. But I have taught myself a many good things by just jumping in and swimming around. That’s how I’ve learned to use Excel, Power Query, and PowerBI. That’s how I’ve built databases. I’ve used this method to change faucets, and now a toilet. I even started my self-publishing and art careers by just seeing what would happen.
As a result, many people have told me that they admire my courage or marvel in all the varied skills I have.
While I am grateful for all the skills I have learned for they have all served me well, I have never seen myself as doing something that someone else couldn’t do if they wished. In fact, if anything, I have seen myself as learning everything not only the hard way, but backwards as well.
Remember, I did say naively stupid.
It always seems like I then have to stop with this intermediate knowledge that I gained in this ill-mannered fashion and go back and get the beginning, foundational knowledge. Yeah, those first important steps to keep the whole thing from crumbling. I think I would have been better off if my dad hadn’t just told me that my forts were amazing because they stood up while lacking a foundation and had actually taken me to a construction site to explain what exactly a foundation was. Foundations?!?! I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know why it mattered if my forts remained standing anyway. Didn’t make sense to me. Of course, I don’t think either my dad or I understood just what a visual learner I was at that time.
But there does seem to be some element which I do possess that others lack, something that makes me even attempt feats that others shirk away from.
Behind this courage is a willingness to try. And a willingness to fail. Followed by the curiosity to get back up again and try again. But if you can’t even get over the initial fears, you won’t open yourself up to the attempt to begin with. And we all have the ability to do that because we learn how to walk. We learn how to talk. The instinctual actions of a baby all give way at some point to a need to learn something new. I believe our current school system tempers a willingness to try out of us with their incessant need to have the correct answers on the first try. Failure is not allowed. Trying it again, swimming around in the information to see how to use it, and other handling of the information just fed to us in school is not encouraged or allowed. It’s all about being able to pass the standardized test.
OK, I probably need to stop there. We need the initial knowledge that school gives us, but I still feel like there has to be a better way. And I can say this. I was a good student and got decent grades. I graduated as Valedictorian. But it has taken me 30 years of my life to actually understand HOW to use the knowledge I’d been told to learn. And to figure out how life worked. I wish I could say that I did a better job of teaching my children, but it was only when I saw my oldest struggling and learning that he had learning disabilities which forced us to discover how he learns the best that I really did any self-reflection into this. And I could see what needed to be corrected for my family. I changed my course and tried to assure that life lessons were taught in regards to applicable situations.
I learned a lot from it. I pressed myself into more self-development. I knew I had a lot to unlearn and recondition.
I know that’s a long way of going about writing this blog, but 2020 has been a year of personal growth for me. I decided that if I wasn’t going to be able to do shows due to COVID, I would put my time into learning new skills and molding myself into a better person.
When I looked back, I saw that I had already come a significant distance. I already knew quite a bit about changing the person I was. I even found that I liked motivating others to make the decision to change themselves. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. But when they do and you see the pride rising in them from the changes they see in themselves, it’s a wondrous thing.
Even know as I write this though, I am finding it tough. I am trying to summon the courage to explain. I’ve let a new bubble expand in my life. I’ve started to write nonfiction. I always imagined that if I wrote nonfiction, it would be about writing (the only thing in this world I actually feel knowledgeable about and sometimes even that is doubtful!) . Alas, no, my nonfiction will be about personal development. (I’ve heard it said that psychologists themselves usually need the most mental help, and priests need the most spiritual help, so what does that say about me? Yes, probably that I am still a baking cookie as Buffy put it!) At least, that is where I am starting. Who knows what will happen from there.
Yes, I’m scared to undertake this journey. It might fail. It seems like one more thing on my already full plate. Yet, I do feel compelled to go in this direction. Not that any of the others are going to stop. I still want to write fiction, paint, and narrate, but I have to somehow incorporate the nonfiction as well. My soul seeks the expansion. Yet that doesn’t help overcome the fear. Fear of being judged, of being ridiculed, of falling on my face.
So once again, I just jump in and swim. At least I already understand writing and publishing in this day and age. Finally, for once, I might not totally be naively stupid.