“You should write a knitting book or do a blog. That’s an unbelievable and pretty sweater, ” my friend Virginia commented below a picture on social media of my latest FO (that’s Finished Object to all you non-knitters). Thanking her, I responded back that I liked the blog idea. But in reality I was shaking my head thinking, “Who me, that’s crazy! Who would read it?” But as the weeks went by, that one comment kept working its way into my consciousness. A blog. I could write a blog. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I really did like the idea. I’ve long wanted to be a writer but wasn’t sure where to begin. This could be that beginning. It would be a new skill to learn and I love learning new skills. That’s one of the reasons I love knitting so much. There’s always something new to learn. I’ve also dreamed of designing knitting patterns instead of just knitting what others design but didn’t know where or how to start. This blog would be the perfect place to chronicle that journey.
But the idea terrified me too. What if I wasn’t good at it? What if I failed?
Have you ever wanted to try or do something new and have your own voice of doubt hold you back? I call mine “Perfectionist Kim”. She’s the side of me that is afraid of failing. The side of me that doesn’t want to do or try anything unless it can be done perfectly. And unfortunately, she can be really loud and persistent. She’s ruined many experiences over the years or held me back from even trying.
I can remember one such occasion when I was ten years old. My parents were divorced and I didn’t get to visit my Dad too often but that summer, I was staying at his house for a whole week. I was looking forward to spending time with my Dad and I was really looking forward to being able to swim in a pool every day. The family next door had a built in pool and they let all the neighborhood children swim there with their children. It would be much better than swimming in the muddy creek at my grandparents shore house where I’d be the for the rest of the summer.
After breakfast the first morning of my visit, I put my bathing suit on and ran next door to the pool. Lots of children were already there, happily splashing around and I was eager to join them. The younger kids were on the steps and in the shallow end but most kids my age were all in the deep end. That’s where I wanted to be! Before I could jump in, the neighbor stopped me and explained that I’d have to first pass a swim test and earn a bracelet to wear showing that I had was allowed to swim in the entire pool. In order to swim in the deep end of the pool, I’d have to tread water for a full minute and swim across the full length of pool without touching the bottom two times. I gulped as I realized I’d have to take this test in the pool by myself with everyone watching, including my Dad. The neighbor was getting ready to clear the pool for me to take the test, when I told her not to, that I wanted to wait and get used to the water first.
The funny thing is, I could actually swim quite well for my age, having had swim lessons in pools and open water since I was five. But the thought of taking a swim test in front of people I didn’t really know and in front of my Dad, paralyzed me. The voice of doubt from “Perfectionist Kim” whispered in my head, “what if you fail?” So instead of doing the test that day, I decided to wait. And wait. And wait. Each day, I’d go to the pool determined to take the test but instead I’d choose to stay in the shallow end. I told myself, I liked playing with the younger kids and watching out for them in the shallow end. But that wasn’t true. I was afraid of failing, especially in front of my Dad.
Finally, on the very last day before I was to leave, I got up the courage to take the test. And guess what? I passed. As the neighbor handed me the bracelet indicating I could swim in the deep end, she commented on what a good swimmer I was. “I don’t know why you waited so long. If you’d had taken the test sooner, you could have been swimming in the deep end all week.” I didn’t respond but I knew the answer. The voice of doubt from “Perfectionist Kim” and my fear of failure had won. As a result, I’d missed out on a week of fun.
I thought about that memory and others as I tossed the idea of this blog around in my head. Would “Perfectionist Kim” win again and hold me back? The answer, if you’re still reading this, is obviously no. Does that mean I’m not still terrified? Nope. The fear is still real but that’s okay. Hopefully, as time goes on, it will diminish. In the meantime, thanks, Virginia for making that comment and suggestion. I’m eager to see where this blog takes me.
I’ll be back next week when I’ll actually talk about knitting and the sweater that prompted this blog. It’s not the sweater I had planned to make. See you then….Kim