Monday, January 27, 2014

That Time I was Invited to Join Swim Team...

I was reflecting on some things that had happened over a weekend and found myself remembering the time I was invited to join the local swim team.  Sounds weird but trust me, they are related.

For those of you who know me, you know I am horrible at making decisions.  For those of you who don't know me, trust me.  I know it's not an uncommon issue among human kind, but I'm REALLY bad about it.  I shut down and am even more frustrating to talk to than normal.  I was trying to figure out if I've always been that way, or if there was an event in my life that made me this way.  Short answer, I think I've always been this way.  As I grew up things I was told by the people around me became things I 'learned' and helped contribute to the indecisive, anxious, insecure person I am today.  Enter swim team memory.

I don't remember how old I was, but I'm pretty sure it was before middle school, and probably fifth grade.  (I don't think I swam much after fifth grade.)  In elementary school we were walking distance from our local community center.  One week, every year, we would walk down every day for swim lessons.  I loved swimming, but I was a chunky girl so the experience was a blessing and a curse.  Often times it felt like just another opportunity for the other kids to make fun of me.  I didn't really have friends, there were some kids that were less mean to me than others so there were a few people I could interact with but they were careful not to be too closely associated with me.  All I ever wanted was to belong with some group.  

Since I enjoyed swimming so much, Mom tried to take me and my sisters to swim at least once a week, sometimes more.  We'd go for lap swim, and free swim.  It was exercise that we didn't seem to mind, and Mom felt it was important that we all knew how to swim so she encouraged the activity.  I really didn't care if I was swimming laps, or swimming around people/playing in the pool.  I loved swimming under water and seeing how long I could hold my breath.  I think I probably enjoyed the lap swimming a little more because I didn't really have to dodge people (assuming I stayed in my lane).  

I really can't remember how exactly this swim team memory played out, and if I asked my Mom I'm sure she would have an entirely different memory of events but I'm going to stick with mine because clearly it is what would be playing over and over in my head.  It would make sense that it would have happened on a lap swim day.  Mom was talking with someone when I came out of the dressing room after my swim (may have been a coach, may have been a a swimmer on the team) and when I got there I found out they were talking about me.  Basically, I was being recruited for swim team.  Mom said something about needing to think about it, or talk to my dad.  I was really surprised, excited, and feeling pretty special!  So special I can't remember what they said, but in my mind at that time the only thing that mattered was that they wanted me.  This could be an opportunity for me to maybe finally fit in with a group while doing something I enjoyed!

I was on board.  My parents were not.

I think they had valid, common, parental concerns.  Maybe they were worried I'd try it and hate it.  Maybe they didn't want to be swim parents.  What I remember being told is that they didn't think it would be a good idea because it would be another thing I wouldn't follow through with.  Um, what?  I was a fat kid with no friend.  I wasn't in any clubs (no 4-H, no Girl Scouts), and I didn't really do anything.  When had I not followed through on something?  Had I let them down somewhere/somehow?  It would have been a good time to encourage me to join something, and if I didn't like it encourage me to finish out the season (good lesson about being a team player/not letting people down/finishing what I start).  I may have made some friends, I may have found something I was good at and I would have learned it's okay to try things, but to be prepared to finish them regardless.  But that's not what happened.  I don't remember much after the "no."  It was never talked about again.

So how does this relate to my thoughts about inability to make decisions?  It relates to those thoughts/phrases/instances that keep replaying over and over in our minds that we don't even realize we have up there on repeat.  Kind of like a mantra but not quiet.  Maybe more like one of those old-timey self playing pianos, you know with the spools you put in and the song plays and the keys move.  We are shaped by these things, consciously or unconsciously.  I know the "don't finish what you start" is one of my spools.  At random times it will pop into my conscious mind and I'll almost feel ashamed, like I've done something wrong.  That's usually the point I tell myself not to bother trying, to just walk away.

Having said that, there have been some things I haven't given up on.  College is a good example (and a story for another time).  And I try to make sure if I start something, I finish it.  The problem is, I think I'm afraid to start things and am overly selective in things.  If I feel like it's going to be too hard, I shut down and I don't know how to stop doing that.  I think that's what happens to me when I have to make a decision.  Rather  than making a choice, or trying new things, I will find lame excuses not to because somewhere in my mind I've already convinced myself I'm going to fail.

And there it is.  Rather than fail I just don't do anything.  In a way, that's almost worse than not finished what you start.  I guess it's also a good reminder if you have little ones around that the things you say to them do have a linger effect-and it's not always the one you meant.  

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