Fear of what’s behind the curtain

My daughter recently reminded me that, almost exactly 10 years ago to this date, I moved her down to New Orleans for her freshman year at Loyola University. Being of the independent mindset that she was then, and continues to be, she was the sole individual from her high school graduation class to venture off to New Orleans for college. I once asked, “But, sweetie, what about KU or K-State? New Orleans is so far away? It violates my unwritten guideline of you remaining in a 1-day drive radius from home!” “Oh, dad”, she replied. “Everyone else is going to either of those two schools! I don’t want to go to ‘Blue Valley Graduate School!'”

So, in late August of 2004, we packed up the Honda family mini-van, and headed down to the Gulf. I remember her words when I drove her to campus on St. Charles Avenue for her final day of orientation: “Dad, I’m a little scared” she said, her voice tailing off. My reply: “Sweetie, there are hundreds and hundreds of other incoming freshman from all over the country who are speaking those very same words to their dad or mom right now. You’ll be fine. You’ll meet new friends, have new experiences. You’ll grow.” And, you know what? I’m proud to say that those words came true. Not only did she stay at, and graduate from Loyola University. But, she made New Orleans her home, and eventually met her husband-to-be there, too!

I’ve heard and read that we’re all born geniuses. But, over time, the world, people, experiences and events “box us in”. We impose limitations on ourselves. We stop taking chances. We miss out on experiences. “I can’t do that”…..”I shouldn’t do that”…..”What if ____” (just fill in the blank…..you probably won’t find it hard).

Remember what your life was like as a child? Do you remember what it felt like to explore? To create? To let yourself go, with little or any inhibitions? As an adult, we often feel the need to rationalize everything….to think it through…..to think “what if….”. You see where I’m headed? “Fear-ville”….yes?

I believe it’s more enriching to think, “What’s the biggest downside risk here? And, if that happens, can I live with it?” But, we should also ask ourselves, “What can I realize here? What joy, or fulfillment might I experience? How can my sense of worth, and my confidence, be given a boost?”

I’ve recently taken up oil painting as a hobby. Call it a latent interest (and, let’s hope, talent!) that I’ve suppressed for many, many years. I’ve spent several hundred dollars in a good quality easel, paints, brushes and other supplies. I’m receiving complimentary lessons from a dear, kind friend who has spent her entire career in teaching and learning about art. Will I ever be a great painter? Have I wasted my money and time? I don’t know, but it’s sure been fun so far!

About Dean Long

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