Struggling to Succeed?
Remember when you were young and learning to ride a bike? Maybe you tried it first with training wheels. Eventually you were ready to ride on your own.
Think about the first time you rode by yourself. Did someone help you get started by giving you a push? No matter whether you had help or not, we all know that you fell over. No one ever does it perfectly the first time.
How did you feel after you fell? Did you feel discouraged, maybe even embarrassed? But encouraged or not, humiliation and teasing or not, at some point you got back on the bicycle and tried again. Because if you did not, you would not know how to ride a bicycle today. Because the only way to learn to ride is to get on the bike and ride until you know how. People can give you pointers.
They can support you so that learning is easier. Or you can do it all on your own. No matter what, eventually it is just you and the bicycle.
Through the struggle of figuring out how to balance yourself and the pain of falling, something begins to happen. You begin to realize that you can do this. Often that understanding or feeling comes long before you actually can ride by yourself.
You begin to realize that the embarrassment of the laughter or the aloneness of trying on your own is going to be over soon. You are going to conquer this. You are going to succeed. You get a glimpse of the freedom ahead. You feel the wind blowing in your face and hair.
Then it comes. You can stay up. You may still be a bit wobbly but you are doing it. You are riding. You let in a deep breath. Riding is no longer so hard. You know how to balance yourself. You are free. You are no longer bound by how far you can walk. You can now journey into the world as far as your bike can take you, or at least as far as your parents will let you go. And occasionally maybe even a bit further than that.
Ah but that was then and this is now. You are an adult now. For many of us, we are no longer willing to allow ourselves to feel embarrassment as we learn. We must hide when we don’t know. We shy away from letting others see us struggle. If we cannot get it quickly, we do not try.
Yet whenever we do not face the struggle, we lose a bit of ourselves. Whenever we shy away from the hurt and pain that comes with taking risks and falling until we succeed, our world shrinks a bit. One day we wake up and wonder what happened. Where is the wind blowing in my face and hair?
Struggling to Succeed? We have forgotten that struggling may not be bad. It can be part of becoming more alive. I hope that you will find your adult version of a bicycle and struggle with it. Figure out what it takes to succeed at whatever your bicycle is. You know that you can do it. You just have to find the way. Remember the aliveness that lies ahead as the wind blows through your hair.
Allen Rader, LCSW – Allen is a therapist, entrepreneur and founder of ATS Wellness and Therapy. He enjoys assisting people in transforming their lives rather than just learning to cope with the challenges of life.