It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! Today I’m sharing a guest post from Audra Costello, about standing on the diving board and being afraid to leap. If you’d like to share a story from your own Crafting my Life journey, drop me a line and let me know!
The summer I was five, my parents said I had to take swimming lessons until I passed “Beginners”. It took me awhile, but I didn’t mind the lessons on the first, second or third time through. I enjoyed splashing around in the water and the teachers were nice. The part of every trip to the local pool I dreaded was the moment when the lesson was over. My class was taken to the diving board and, one at a time, we took turns jumping off. I watched as each child in front of me stepped onto the low board, walked or ran to the edge and pushed themselves into the water. Some bicycled their legs for the fraction of a second they were in the air while others made their bodies go completely stiff as they sliced through the water. The instructors were waiting nearby to help anyone who struggled in their swim to the safety of the ladder. It was foolproof and I knew this. In my head. Try as I might, I couldnâ€™t make my feet jump off the diving board. I was paralyzed by my own fear.This is the first time I felt this way, but not the last. My life has been full of these moments where, despite my extreme desire, I just can’t move myself to action. I can see the disconnect between where I am and where I want to go, but I can’t push myself to get there. I’m on the board and I can see the ladder, but the uncertainty that lies between is just too scary.The worst part is knowing that I am the only one holding me back.
The experiment that evolved into my blog, Little Tiger and the Milk Belly Princess, afforded me more opportunities than I could have imagined back on that day in August of 2010 when I decided to see what would happen if I stopped buying toys for my children. I learned about sourcing craft materials at Zero Landfill and began a really rewarding teaching experience at a local arts center. Every week I work with a fantastic group of six-to-eight year old girls who are excited about what I have to teach them. Yet, those opportunities have raised difficult questions. The things I look forward to only make up a small fraction of my time and lately that has me questioning the choices I’ve made and continue to make.Why is the part of the day Iâ€™m most excited about only an hour or two at the very end? Why is it that all I find fulfilling in my life–raising my children, crafting, blogging–pushed to the margins? I’ve been teaching high school English full-time for 14 years. I’ve never done anything this long before and lately I’ve been thinking that this part of my life has run its course. For a lot of reasons that I won’t get into here, I can’t muster the enthusiasm I once had.
I can see where I want to go, but I’m back on the diving board again and I can’t jump. What am I afraid of? Disappointment? Failure? That I can’t even comprehend the extent to which I might experience these? That my dad will yell at me?
Growing up I was repeatedly told to “keep [my] options open,” but it was simultaneously communicated to me that playing it safe was the way to go. At the end of my senior year at The College of Wooster, I was offered an opportunity to stay on campus for an extra year to run the college’s writing center. When I called home and told my parents about this, they pretty much said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s flattering and all, but it’s really not going to get you anywhere.” Despite what they said about options, they both believed in playing it safe. To this day they still believe if you don’t know precisely what you’re doing, jumping will make you very, very sorry.
My word for 2012 is authenticity and I want to embrace living an authentic life. I know that this is not achieved by playing it safe. I can see where I want to go, but I need to make the jump. And I’m terrified. What’s the next step?
Audra Costello began blogging at Little Tiger and the Milk Belly Princess in 2010 when she decided to see what would happen if she stopped buying her two young daughters toys for 16 months and made them instead. It turns out that only good things became of that little adventure as she and her children grew more creative together.