I love that young children will try anything. Present a young child with a new sport, a new language, a new food, and he or she will try it.
However, that changes quickly — just show most children a plate of vegetables. Based on experience, children who don’t like spinach or broccoli will start refusing to try other green foods, assuming they will be similarly nasty. Even if they like broccoli, many children hear their friends criticizing veggies, and soon feeding florets to those children becomes increasingly difficult. I wonder if that is why Dr. Seuss called his book Green Eggs and Ham, to try and convince readers that green food can be delicious and we should just try them.
As we age, and we have lived more negative experiences, we start getting more set in our ways. Bottom line, we get less adventurous. It seems to me that fear is proportional to age. As soon as we can spell proportional, or know what it means, we are scared for all kinds of reasons.
What are the reasons you give for not doing something? Mine are predominantly fear-based.
Especially when it comes to trying new activities (less so with trying new food — though food poisoning can be painful) my biggest fear is getting physically hurt. I think twice about trying bungee jumping, or skydiving, for fears of scraping a knee, breaking an arm, or worse. I worry about the pain, the blood, the trip to the hospital, and the recovery time.
Physical hurt is bad enough, but worse than that is the fear of getting hurt in front of others, or simply looking like a fool. Embarrassment often even has a longer recovery time than broken bones. The fear of others witnessing the spectacle, seeing you not at your best, can definitely be reason enough to not try any number of things. Silly though -we need to go back to the childhood saying of sticks and stones — we will not die of embarrassment (even if that is another expression).
I also have a fear of realizing that I am not capable of doing something. What if I am not physically, mentally or emotionally equipped to accomplish the activity? What if I can’t remember how to tie the right knots for ice climbing? What if I am not capable of remembering the rules of bridge? What if I am not strong enough to pick up the motorcycle if I fall?
That last one leads to yet another worry of fear, that of breaking something — especially if it is someone else’s something — like their motorcycle. It’s bad enough to scratch your own car, but no one wants to crash someone else’s car the first time they parallel park. Heaven forbid you should break someone else’s surf board when they are teaching you to surf.
And yet another deeper fear creeps in when the teacher is someone you know. Learning to drive stick shift from my parents was painful. Taking golf instruction from a boyfriend was enough to end the relationship there and then. Learning from a loved one can be especially frightening, as it is hard to hand over the reins if we are used to being independent and in control of our world.
I’m also worried about liking a new thing too much. For example, I don’t want to acquire a taste for private reserve scotch, or heli-skiiing, as both are so expensive and inaccessible.
Perhaps the only reason I can think of not doing something that isn’t fear-based is not having the right equipment. I wouldn’t want to try skateboarding without a helmet or other protective gear.
Indifference or lack of interest appears to be the only other excuse I can think of that is not based on fear, though some might argue that such indifference is the same as a fear of living.
We need to turn back our fear-clocks. Getting old shouldn’t mean getting dull. We need to hold on to our youthful vitality. Maybe we need to reread Green Eggs and Ham to remember to try new things.
New activities grow brain cells. The rush of achievement and exhilaration makes us feel alive. Even if we don’t succeed, we can pat ourselves on the back for stepping outside our comfort zones, and we’ll likely have a good story to tell around the water cooler.
I wish for us all a youthful curiosity, and a rekindled sense of adventure. If our own fears have gotten too big, I also wish that a Sam-I-am soon enters our lives.