Life Lessons Learned from my Children: It’s all about Perspective

My daughter, The Girl is a 3 sport athlete for the local high school. Spring brings about the sport she is most passionate about – Track & Field. Now to paint you a picture if you don’t already know her – she is a very fierce 4’11”. She is almost 17 and has not grown in the last 4 years, so most likely she is never going to pass up her ole mom at just shy of 5’2″.

However, the Girl specializes in “tall” girl sports. She’s played basketball since 7th grade and this year on the varsity team played point guard and had one of the highest rebound averages on the team. For Track & Field her main and favorite events include the 4×100, High Jump, Long Jump and Triple Jump. You know, the sports that the tall kids usually excel at!

One lesson I’ve learned from her is that your take on life (your happiness and success) are all about your perspective. She could listen to others when they told her that she was too short to play basketball or average the number of rebounds she wanted to make each game. She could have listened to them when they said a short girl can’t excel at the jumping events. While they all underestimated her based on her height, she choose to use that to her advantage. And look where it has gotten her – last year her varsity 4×100 team (all Sophomore girls) broke their high school record 10 times!! And she tied the Girls High Jump record of 5 feet. She attended a High Jump camp last year at UCLA and the coaches there confided to us that 5 feet is not a record height for many of the girls attending – they had a girl at the camp who had cleared 5’7″. However, the Girl was the only one who was able to clear a height that was over her head. (Can you tell I’m a proud mama!?)

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And though she be but little, she is fierce

Yesterday the High School had their first league meet of the season, which we hosted. The Girl and I talked at the end of the day about her performances (she competed in the 4×100, 100m, High Jump and Triple Jump at this meet). As we talked I realized that depending on how we choose to look at things, depending on what information we consider, our satisfaction with the day’s results changed. Consider this:
Consideration 1:

  • Girl’s Varsity High Jump – Placed 1st
  • Girl’s Varsity Triple Jump – Placed 2nd
  • Girl’s Varsity 4×100 Relay – Placed 2nd

Looks like a pretty successful day, right? But wait…
Consideration 2:

  • Girl’s Varsity High Jump – only cleared 4’4″ when her PR (Personal Record) is 5′
  • Girl’s Varsity Triple Jump – placed 2nd out of 2 athletes and cleared 2′ less than usual
  • Girl’s Varsity 4×100 Relay – placed 2nd out of 2 teams

Hmm…not so wonderful or encouraging anymore. But wait…
Consideration 3:

  • The Girl was out with an injury for almost 5 weeks and has had less than a week back at full practices prior to this Meet. And she only has practiced Triple Jump 2x this season before this Meet due to the injury.
  • The 4×100 team has been shaken up a bit with 1 new girl and 2 girls have switched positions in the relay (apparently this can really shake things up – I’m not a runner so I am clueless on this stuff!)
  • The 4×100 team came within 0.53 seconds of breaking the High School record again!  And this was only the first competition for this switched up team!

Now that is what I call a good and successful Meet! See it is all about your perspective.

Now, the Girl does take after her mom a bit and was not happy at all with her performances. So I had to remind her to look at the positive and keep in mind her recent injury needs to be considered. I’m trying to help her learn at 16 what has taken me over 40 years to learn. She has a very determined, competitive and fierce spirit that I love – but she also has a drive and perfectionism that will tear her down if she is not careful to balance it. She is her own worst enemy.

In any situation we can find the good and the bad. How happy and successful we are really comes down to our perspective. I’m not saying wear rose colored glasses all the time. We have to acknowledge the bad, recognize areas where we can and should improve and strive to always better ourselves. However, we have to be careful to balance that with recognizing and congratulating ourselves on how far we have come and what we have accomplished.

It is easy in my current role at work to just focus on what I have not finished yet or what I have not resolved yet. But when I take a moment and look back at how far I have come, all that we have accomplished despite the road blocks that have been thrown in our path, I have to feel proud. And I DESERVE to feel proud and need to allow myself to be happy about that.

My journey to accept and embrace my imperfections and to love myself for who I am is not just something I am doing for me. I also want to be an example for my daughter. She is an amazing young lady with many talents and I don’t ever want her to doubt herself like I have doubted myself over the years. I want her to see me working through my fears rather than running from them. I want her to see me loving myself just the way I am, accepting my faults while still working to improve myself. I can’t expect something of her that I don’t model myself.

So here I am now, stepping out of my comfort zone and facing my fears. And giving myself the credit I deserve for how far I have come. I’m choosing to change my perspective for my sake and the sake of my family. I am worth it and they are worth it!

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