Think twice before you say “no”
My dad was pissed off. We’d been standing there for hours. I didn’t want to dive into the pool.
‘I don’t need to learn that’, I said.
I was 5. But I’ve always been this way.
We’re lazy animals.
My brain wants me to believe that I don’t need to try new things. That I’m good enough. That I know enough. It comes up with a lot of convincing reasons. Good reasons. Not real reasons.
Do I really need to learn how to dive when I could be playing my brand new Nintendo 64?
That was a good reason to stop this diving nonsense. But the real reason?
I was scared to do something I had never done before. This cold, blue water was the unknown. Would it hurt? A friend of mine bellyflopped once. His skin turned red. The girls laughed at him.
I didn’t want people to laugh at me. Even if there was nobody around except my dad.
I’d rather be average than bad. – Antonin Archer
Your brain will get comfortable pretty fast if you give it a chance. It will whisper in your ear that you’re good enough. That you know enough. Fat will accumulate around your heart until you give up on trying new things.
Because new things are scary.
Life is like a Trivial Pursuit game.
My dad kept saying that life is like a Trivial Pursuit game. To win, you must complete the pie. You need all the pieces.
Some are easy to get. Everyone has a comfort zone. Mine was leisure, of course. I knew video games, TV shows, movies, cartoons, comics. You name it. I was good at these things. I would often get the pink piece.
But one piece isn’t enough. You need them all to win.
“What’s the capital of Cyprus?”
I didn’t know. I didn’t care. What’s the point of Cyprus?
I don’t think I ever won a Trivial Pursuit game. It’s a game for the open-minded and I wasn’t eager to learn new things. My brain whispered in my ear that it wasn’t useful. And I listened.
I let this mindset play tricks on me.
I love football but I’m a bad player. I got injured when I was twelve. Since then, I never got the guts to go back on the pitch. ‘Next year’, I thought.
Well, guess what, I’m still a bad football player. I didn’t force myself. Instead, I watched a lot of football games from the sidelines, wishing I had tried earlier.
If you don’t force yourself to try, you’ll watch life from the sidelines. – Antonin Archer
That’s why you’ve got to dive.
You can’t win if you don’t play.
He forced me. He said we’d stand next to the pool all night if needed. I started arguing. He didn’t care. I started crying. He didn’t care.
I wouldn’t get away with it. So I took a deep breath. And I dived.
First times are special moments. I remember every one of them. My first kiss, my first sex (and first sex-shame), the first time I published a piece on the internet. That was scary.
First times are milestones. What was almost inconceivable becomes obvious. You were scared, but trial beats fear every time, and repetition makes it disappear. Until you feel comfortable doing this thing you were so afraid of.
That means you’ve conquered another piece of the pie.
I climbed the ladder and got out of the pool. My dad was smiling. I smiled back. That was easy after all.
Everything is easy after all.
I stared at the water and felt a warm feeling of accomplishment. I felt powerful. I had conquered.
So I dived again. And then I dived again.
Every time I see a swimming pool, I think about this day. It reminds me that I’m still far from completing the pie. I still say no out of fear without thinking twice. But it’s ok. I’m getting better.
You can’t win the game if you don’t play. The things you do today will be your biography tomorrow. Make it a long, heavy book.
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I’m Antonin Archer. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life.