Just Try

jumpEating cooked vegetables at three years old.

Me: It looks gross! I hate the smell.

Mom: Just try it.

Me: WAAAH!

Mom: One bite. You only have to try one bite.

Elise takes a bite and, years later, learns that she likes vegetables.

 

Learning to dive backwards in high school.

Me: Oh my gosh. I’m so scared I think I’m going to be sick.

Instructor: I’ll help you. Just lean back, squeeze your butt, and aim for the water.

Me: I’m about to pass out.

Instructor: I’m right here. Just try it.

Elise learns to dive backwards and feels the exuberance of facing her fear.

Now fast forward a few years. We’ve finished college and we’re in the “real” world. How is that we’ve stopped really “trying” for stuff? As little kids, we had parents prodding us forward. In school, we might have had a teacher or mentor who gave us the cheering-on that we needed to be brave. Then we started working a job and

BOOM.

It’s just us now. No one is daring us to “just try it” anymore.

When I read the book The Artist’s Way I had exercises that forced me to ask courageously for things freely and readily, believing it was possible to get them. I once sweet-talked my way into a supermarket giving me a beautiful poster with a stack of Ritter-Sport chocolate bars displayed on it. They asked me if I needed it for a project. No, I said. I just loved the picture. Could I have it? They gave it to me.

A month ago I applied for a creative writing class with a well-known writer who I highly respect as a person and an author. I felt sure that I would not be accepted, with the program’s limited number of student spaces and the renown of the author. I was shocked to receive an acceptance letter.

I don’t think that “trying” ever gets any easier, especially when we’re trying something for the first time. It was hard when I was three and it was hard when I was sixteen and ironically, it seems like it’s hardest of all now, when I’m an independent twenty-eight year old adult. And yet, every time I try for something I want, no matter whether I get the thing I’m reaching for or not, I’m happy that I tried.

Because trying validates those hopes and dreams that are flapping and squawking to be heard inside of me. I honor their existence by taking action.

So this one goes out to all of you who feel terrified of reaching for that thing you want. Take a little step this week. Ask for help. Smile as you do it. The worst thing that happens is you try. And trying in itself is a victory.

Just try.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

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