Forks

I was inspired by an article today.

A beautiful article about a talented girl who felt she needed to be older to accomplish her goals.

It made me think. It made me think about my recent successes and triumphs over fears and foes.

It made me think about what was so different from kid Shannon and adult Shannon. Why couldn’t kid Shannon star in musicals? Why couldn’t she sew? Why couldn’t she write a novel, or draw, or bake, or be otherwise fantastic?

I haven’t been training these last twenty years. I haven’t actively been taking lessons.

That’s a lie. I took voice lessons. For like two months. Those notes were in my throat, I just had to mentally get to them. I didn’t flip some switch and all of a sudden my notes were higher and brighter. I just had to try.

One day I wanted to make bomb cupcakes. So I tried. And I did.

One day I wanted to learn to crochet. So I tried, and I did.

One day I sat down and started writing a book. Five years later, it has a legit, small, but legit, fanbase.

So why didn’t kid Shannon ever want those skills?

Oh she did. She desperately wanted to be smart and skilled and talented.

I remember one specific day. I was maybe 15. I was auditioning for a summer musical at my high school. I sang for it and was a nervous wreck. I shook. I cracked. I probably forgot the words. But then I read for it, and the director said it was perfect, but that I had to sing just like I spoke. Terrified, I told him, “I can’t.”

Then he let me leave.

My teacher – who was supposed to guide and teach the young performers of this performing arts program I was a part of… let me leave, because I said I can’t. He never once tried to help me see that I could.

That day still bothers me.

I wanted to be talented, but there was always someone else better. One girl could sing better. One could dance better. I had strong feelings about gender equality, but another girl was the better feminist. I loved history, but another girl was smarter. Someone could cook better. Had a better collection of vintage dresses. Could play the damn bagpipes better. Prettier. Had longer hair. A whole slew of petty, inconsequential things.

About the only thing I was “the most” at is having the smallest foot. That’s not something to rally for.

There was always someone better, so I never tried.

And as I sit here today, thinking of the most “non-desperate” way to convince high school friends on social media that I’m not the loser I was when they knew me, I realize that all I had to do was try.

All these years.

There will always be someone more something than you, but who cares, just try.

Try to make dinner. Try to sing higher, or lower, or louder. Try to tap dance. Try ballet. Try to swing dance.

Try to start a business. Try to use a skill saw. Try running. Try hand lettering. Try using a film camera. Try coding. Or mixing a drink. Or volunteering at the library. Or the humane society.

Paint. Make a movie. Study the stars. Learn about finance or special effects make up. Drive a stick shift. Flirt. Play basketball.

Sure, there will be someone better, you might even be downright terrible. But you can collect those bits of skills and build yourself into an amazing person.

It’s amazing what happens when you try.

 

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