“The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” Oprah Winfrey
Here’s another installment in the ongoing story of me facing the challenges of parenthood. My daughter, a recently graduate from high school, set out with a group of girlfriends on a 3-month cross country expedition. A post high school dream: to travel across country with no agenda and no expectations other than to experience life as it unfolds.
It might sound like a great idea, and as her mom, I might sound calm to you now as I tell you about this trip, but believe me, I didn’t start there.
It all began after a long, arduous decision process to delay her entrance to college. I of course wanted her to benefit from the opportunities college affords, but she said she needed a break from the academic rigors and wanted some time to “find herself”.
In theory, I agreed with her. A lot of young people take time off between high school and college; yet, I still found myself attached to wanting her somewhere “safe” and getting on with the business of taking her place in the world. Finally, after much debate and internal process, I was able to let go and support the idea of her taking time to begin her adulthood. And truthfully, deep down, I knew it could be a life changing opportunity for her.
So, on the coattails of the college delay decision she decided to go on the road trip. When she left I got afraid. Taking a year off is one thing, but going on a risky trip with limited resources without a plan is another!
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to imagine what I was afraid of. And, I’m sure you don’t have to be a parent to relate. I was concerned about her safety, kids in a vehicle going 70 miles per hour on the highway. Who might she run into that would take advantage of her, what decisions they might make to get them into trouble, sex, drugs, the list goes on and on. Thinking those thoughts, I found myself getting paralyzed with all the what-ifs.
The trip was happening and I knew I couldn’t survive the summer in that state. It wasn’t healthy for me to be driven by all that fear. I had to take a look at what I could do to get a grip.
I reminded myself of one of the most powerful tools I offer my clients: is worrying and being afraid going to change the outcome? In reality, in all my life experience, I know that it doesn’t. Yes, there are real things that can happen in life but, as Oprah says, it’s your fear that has all the power.
This one thought helped me to relax and remember something else that was also true. Bottom line, I trust my daughter and although inexperienced, I believe she has a solid head on her shoulders. What ever happens, I know I can deal with it. Furthermore, if I were going to be modeling anything that might have a positive influence on her, I would rather have it be that she learns, no matter what happens, SHE can deal with it.
Ironically, as it turns out, that’s been the life lesson of this adventure for her too. As she’s been relating to me on our weekly phone calls, she’s had all kinds of experiences, mostly wonderful, but some challenging, and some scary. As she shares her experiences with me I’m hearing a relaxed, maturing young woman who’s dealing beautifully with life as it unfolds, just as it should be. What more can I ask for?
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!