Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lesson Learned, Melissa: Don't Limit Yourself

Contest entry #2, by one of our frequent guest writers, Melissa Turney, who now runs the awesome blog Living in the Motherhood.

I used to consider myself a pretty adventurous person. I’ve always loved to travel to strange and exotic places around the world and immerse myself in their culture—as far as my dollar will allow. I would love to engage in challenges testing my own limits. Before I got married, there were very few things I wouldn’t consider doing once as long as it remained in the bounds of my moral compass and I could afford to do it.

Then I grew up.

I got married, got a job, graduated from college, had a baby…and pretty soon I was pretty well settled in my new found comfort zone. You know—the one where you don’t take overnight trips to foreign countries just for the stamp in your passport or go repelling off a cliff just to impress some cute guy. It is the zone where you see 9 PM flashing on your clock radio and think “Bed time already…Woohoo!”

This summer I took a trip with my daughter up to Island Park Idaho where I spent the better part of my summers as a youth (proof that I’m old…I’m using the word youth). Most of the cousins I spent my time with as a kid were off being adults, so I had the privilege of getting to know some “youthier” cousins and my sister who are all in the 15-19 year range. For some reason this brought out a side of me that I thought had vanished.

Several of my cousins decided it would be fun to go bridge jumping. I do not like heights, falling, or becoming paralyzed so I decided against it. Unfortunately for me, as I stood there watching my cousins hurl themselves off the bridge into the water I began to get that "old" sinking feeling in the depths of my bowels.

I had to jump.

Yes it was hard, yes it took me about ten minutes of standing on the very edge picturing my dead body floating in the river while making others jump before me (including my daredevil 6 year old cousin), but I closed my eyes and jumped into what seemed an eternity until I hit the frigged water of the Snake river and came up feeling awesome. When I emerged from the water my grandpa said, "There is the mother of the year!"

Why didn't I want to take the chance in the first place? Why would I think that becoming an adult would exclude me from such ridiculousness? I was using adulthood as an excuse to prohibit myself rather than a jumping point (no pun intended) to reach my full potential.

This is why three days later I found myself standing on a rock in Yellowstone National Park absolutely naked.

Bridge jumping renewed my desired to go beyond my comfort zone and be spontaneous. My sister and cousins invited me to Mystic falls to go skinny dipping. I'll spare you the details but know that I absolutely did it and I have never felt better doing something illegal in my whole life. Sure, I was afraid I would get swept up in the currant and my naked body would go over the waterfall, sure I was afraid that someone would steal my clothes, or I would get partially eaten by a bear-- then be found naked, but I learned that you are never beyond challenging yourself, you are never beyond adventure.

Life is meant to be lived. For some people it means ignoring your diet to indulge in your favorite dessert, for others it is jumping out of a plane. I learned that you should never limit your choices based on the stereotype you have categorized yourself in. Sure I am an adult. I’m a mom…but I am also Melissa Turney, and she likes a little adventure now and again.


Miri said...

I love the last paragraph of this essay, especially the line about stereotypes you've put yourself in. People always try to put themselves in categories, and then think it's weird when someone steps outside their stereotype and does something that doesn't "fit" them. I love the idea of erasing the borders of those categories and just doing things that make you happy.

Melissa said...

I am so guilty of this Miri! Even this weekend my husband was prompting me to ride a carousel by myself and I didn't want to because I thought I'd look stupid. I probably would have had fun too but I categorized myself as an "adult" and adults don't ride carousels by themselves :/ so perhaps my lesson was not so much learned as it is something I am continuing to learn daily.