Go Down Swinging

I’ve never gone hungry. That one little fact puts me in a small percentage of very privileged humans on planet earth. Maybe my parents have so that I didn’t have to, but I never knew about it.

I’ve never gone hungry.

But I’m so afraid of being hungry.

I’m significantly overweight. I’m tall, so it’s not immediately obvious how overweight I am. But I register much deeper in the obesity scale than I’d like to admit. And yes, some of that weight is the muscle is takes to drag around so much of me, but I am by no means fit. I eat good food and I eat far too much of it.

But I’m afraid of being hungry.

It’s strange, isn’t it, how you can worry so much about something that you have never experienced? something you most likely will never have to experience? I’ve heard that the number one fear most people have is the fear of public speaking, with death a close second. That means most people are more afraid of giving a speech than they are of dying.

But what’s going to happen if you screw up your presentation? if you say good morning instead of good afternoon? if you try to say hello to someone and skip straight to “I’m fine thanks” by accident?

In a word? NOTHING.

I guess this is on my mind because I went to a combined school concert last night, three middle school bands and one high school. And you could hear the middle schoolers, even when they were playing right, kind of holding back until they were sure that everyone else was also playing. This made the couple students playing correctly and confidently stand out so much that you weren’t sure if they were actually supposed to be doing what they were doing.

But they were the good ones. Sometimes you have to commit to your attempt even when you’re not sure you’re doing the right thing. Or even if you already know you’re going to fail. What’s the saying? Go down swinging.

When I was taking French in college, my teacher told us, “Don’t mumble. If you pronounce it wrong but say it clearly, they will be much more likely to figure out what you’re saying. Even if you’re pronouncing something right, if you’re mumbling, no one can tell.” Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t be afraid to commit. Don’t be afraid to care.

Being an adult is learning to laugh at yourself. It’s about learning to go with it, about learning how to incorporate your mistakes, about learning that no one is perfect all the time. It’s about trying even if you know you will fail.

It’s a very hard lesson.

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