In my six eventful summers as a camp counselor, I have experienced numerous situations that have left me with a variety of stories and memories to share for years to come, from sad to funny to shocking and everything else in between. However, today I find myself remembering a small yet powerful moment that I found to be inspiring, and maybe you will too.
Every morning, after all campers would finish breakfast, the counselors would gather our groups and take everyone outside to the soccer field and playground. There was one little boy in my group of six- and seven-year-olds that would race ahead of everyone and wait for me by the monkey bars. He told me that he wanted to learn how to go across them by the end of summer so he could show all his friends when the school year started. I had no problem teaching him and assured him that he would be able to learn in no time at all.
Each lesson would start with me giving him a small boost up and he would jump and grab onto the first bar. I would hold onto him, and I would slowly talk him through each movement and technique until we made it across. Sometimes his little hands would slip or his arms would tire, and each time I was there to catch him, just as I promised I would be. One day, I decided there was enough progress, and I was confident that he could make it across on his own. However, the moment I let go of him, he froze in panic and proceeded to cry, so I hurriedly reached out to him, and with just my touch he was reassured and quickly calmed down.
For the next two weeks, we slowly worked up to me letting him go, and each time he would panic. I constantly comforted and reminded him there was no reason to be afraid, because even if I did let go, he had learned everything that he needed to learn to get him safely across, he just needed to believe and be confident in himself.
Several days later, I had to resolve a disagreement between a few of my campers, and I was late walking over to the playground, but what I saw stopped me in my tracks. Lo and behold my little camper was halfway across the monkey bars! When he got to the end and jumped down, there was the biggest smile on his face that no doubt mirrored my own. I asked him how he did it and he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess I just forgot to be scared. You told me to believe in myself and I did.” This time, it was my turn to cry, and there was no holding back those tears of joy.
Who would have known that those simple words from a six-year-old could render so much emotion and truth? Sometimes we all need to be more like that small child. We need to stop doubting ourselves and just “forget to be afraid.” I know that may sound easier said than done, because let’s face it, change can be scary, taking a risk can be scary, trying something new can be scary, and putting yourself out there for someone can be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Never trying at all. Watching others fly circles around you because you were too afraid to take the leap and spread your wings. Never knowing the heights you could have reached because you allowed fear to stop you from flourishing into your fullest potential.
The fear of the unknown is only scary until you have the courage to face it and make it known. Now is your time to step into your potential. I challenge you to “forget to be afraid” so you can remember who you were destined to be.