When I was in 3rd grade, I went on family vacation with my parents to Lake Havasu – which was a regular occurrence for me.
On this particular trip I got some windburn on my face and mouth and was convinced I was practically disfigured. I did not want to go to school, but of course, my mom made me.
Upon arriving to the door to my classroom, I was horrified to find the door locked and everyone waiting outside.
All I wanted to do was to go hide my face in my arms on my desk and not be seen by anyone for the catastrophe on my face.
Once the teacher opened the door (after EVERYONE else arrived), I made a beeline for my desk and followed my plan to bury my face and hide my windburn.
I noticed something strange was happening though.
Nobody else was sitting down. There was excitement in the room. Buzz. Energy. I looked down through my folded arms and could see pennies on the floor.
You see, while my classmates were all making a mad dash collecting pennies from around the room, I was sulking at my desk. Feeling sorry for myself because I perceived something was wrong with how I looked that day.
My lesson in school that day was about the Gold Rush, and how exciting it was for pioneers at the time.
My lesson in life that day was about showing up no matter how bad you think you look or what other people might be thinking about you.
I still cringe a little when I think about that day and how I wish I would have chosen differently.
But I am grateful to have had the lesson.
Because now I know, viscerally, how much joy I am capable of keeping from myself with even the smallest of choices. To opt for believing something is wrong. To self-select myself out of the big fun game that is my life for fear of how I look while playing full out.
You might be one of those people who brags that you like to learn the hard way. If that's you, best of luck.
Or maybe you're someone who prefers to learn from the so-called mistakes of others. In which case, I implore you…
Do not place yourself on the bench. Get out of your head, your judgments, your perceptions about what's what… go PLAY!
You don't know how many trips around the sun you get to take. Why let even a fraction of one go to waste?