Something New: Oh, To Be a Three Year Old

Remind me again who said, “It is never too late”? Oh that’s right, Nancy did. And Anthony Hopkins. And my great aunt who decided to start painting at 50. And my mom who started learning to play an instrument in her 60s. The people I find inspiring have all decided to pursue something new at an age when people often settle comfortably into their routines. I love these brave souls. I want to BE them–from a distance. In principle, “It is never too late” is beautiful. In practice, it is self-imposed torture.

And age is so relative! I’m in agony, and I’m 34. I can’t imagine being 74 and putting myself out there. Please, at 18, I thought it was already too late. Regardless, with each new pursuit, I feel like I’m in a dance class for toddlers. Except I’m not a toddler, so while the skill level is absolutely appropriate, I stand out a bit amongst all the little tykes. When I wear my pink tutu inside out, forget the choreography, and bump into the 2 and 3 year-olds beside me, it’s not precious and adorable. It’s awkward and maybe a little painful-especially for those poor kiddoes.

And yet, this is what I desperately wanted for this year: to stop living out of my fear and instead live period, which ultimately means stepping out of my comfort zone and making mistakes along the way. I never could have predicted last March just how many lessons that goal would afford me:

  • Rejecting perfectionism
  • Embracing play
  • Enjoying the journey (I heard some of you gag, but you know it’s true.)
  • Giving up people pleasing
  • Re-framing “failure”

I haven’t figured these out by any means, but at least my eyes are finally open to them. And more importantly-this time-I’m not fleeing. Regardless of the outcome, I’m letting “everything happen to me: beauty and terror.” (My thanks to Rilke.)

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11 thoughts on “Something New: Oh, To Be a Three Year Old

  1. mariaholloway says:

    Melissa – I absolutely love this post! And I love the quote in your “doodle”. It’s interesting the different ways it can be interpreted…do you remember what I said when I read it? (And by “it”, I mean the first version.)
    I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I regularly find that I can REALLY relate to your posts. The big difference, from my perspective, is that I am in awe of your ability to STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
    You are, quite honestly, an inspiration. I hope that there’s a day -in the near future- that this 38-year-old gets the guts to follow your lead and embrace the fact that “it’s never too late”.
    Thanks for providing such an awesome example.

  2. mariaholloway says:

    One more thing…thank you for providing the mental image of you wearing an inside-out tutu!

  3. Gianna says:

    This is a great post. I love the mental image of being surrounded by a bunch of little kids at their level but standing 2 or 3 feet above them feeling completely out of it.

    Self imposed torture! Absolutely! But really in the long run, it doesn’t matter. Not really. Even though it totally feels like it does.

  4. Shara says:

    Love this, Melissa! I think at the heart level all of us are fearful creatures. The only difference between people is those who choose to sit in those fears and those who choose to overcome. Thanks for being so real…it resonates!

  5. Nancy says:

    You can always tell when someone is writing about embracing their fears just to be poetic. Everything sounds so simple and easy, almost like a motivational poster or a Nike advertisement: just do it. What I love about your post is you are confronting your fears and acknowledging that it isn’t easy at all. I appreciate your honesty regarding the terror and self torture because it would be so easy to hide all of the struggles that come along with confronting your fears. If you left out all of the other emotions, it would seem like a 50’s commercial where nothing goes wrong and you still have a smile with your makeup perfectly in place.

  6. Mike says:

    Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly – at the beginning. Crawling and then walking, it is worth falling in order to stand on your own two feet.
    “I hope I never grow up” – Peter Pan
    See you tonight, Officer Paige.

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