Over the last several Monday nights, our boys have gone to swim lessons. While they both were very excited and continued to be mostly enthusiastic about going, Oli often had a different tone about 2 minutes into the lesson.
His instructor, with her back to Ryan and I, would ask Oli to jump into the water. She’d offer her hands. She’d try to encourage him, reassure him. He’d shake his head. Step backwards. His cheeks grew rosy. His face tense and nervous. He’d rather play it safe.
A few times she actually had to give up because he’s that stubborn. Most of the time, she would cling more tightly to him, so he felt little risk in the endeavor. One time I had to go over and inform him that he had to listen to his teacher. I mustered my best mom face to convey that staying on the edge wasn’t a safe place either.
The thing about fear and anxiety is that the only way to deal with it is to run right through. The only way to master it, rather than let it master you, is to jump right in and realize you’re just fine. Even if it’s startling and scary, sitting on the edge isn’t a safe life. It’s a life ruled by fear. And most of the time, when we jump in, we discover the risk was worth it and we actually are quite safe.