August 30, 2012
Testing the Ropes
Today I participated in a low ropes challenge course at a local college with a county-wide leadership program for juniors. When I first learned that our first team and leadership building exercise was an obstacle course, I freaked out. I didn't think I'd be able to do it physically. I was worried that my dear friend PCOS and all the issues it entails including un-normal weight would affect me. Quite honestly, it did. Today I learned that I have limitations. At some things I was disappointed, and at some things I failed. I probably could have straddled a rope and swung over the "poisonous pit of peanut butter," but I didn't feel comfortable. I was scared. So I closed my eyes and basically crabwalked to the safe "lily pad" of a hula hoop" that was our goal. I got dirty today. I took a chance.
I trusted a lot of people who I just met to be mature and accept me just the way I am today. And at lunch, when somebody in my group mentioned a story that he was going to tell about the ropes to his sister, but he "couldn't say right now," I lost faith in humanity a little. Everybody has those moments, I'm learning. Everyone experiences the, "Why, exactly, do they think they have any business making a joke out of me?" in life.
But then after that comment, again at lunch, we got back to the positive. Things that we're good at. Things that I'm good at. I discovered that when people decide to take risks and are scared to death, there will always be people who laugh. Not necessarily to their face, obviously. Perhaps the comment wasn't about me. But in that very moment, I was sure that it was. After eating my one piece of pizza (go moderation!), we did another challenge involving a giant spider web that we all had to fit through. And although I probably messed up once or twice, so did everyone else, but overall we succeeded.
So for the latter half of today I didn't stress perfection and I loved it. I was laughing with people from my school that I don't usually talk to, and I learned that snap judgements are sometimes wrong. A guy who I thought was directionless several years ago also participated in this course today, and although he wasn't in my group, he rode my bus where he sang. Well! I mean, I knew he sang, but this? I was impressed. He sang loudly. Unabashedly. And I realized that he wasn't the only one who took that step.
Every single person I met today put themselves out there. Out in the open to be judged, labeled, and thrown in a cute little box for all the world to see. Every single person I met today had enough courage to throw open the hatches, and just be themselves outside off all clique lines. Sure, you can still see vague outlines. Jocks, cheerleaders, strange people like me. (There aren't that many of us who are leaders!) But surprisingly, everybody forgot about that for a while and worked together. I forgot about that and worked with them.
And certainly, if that guy was talking about me and was to ever read this, I would want him to know that I'm sorry for assuming that he was being a jerk. And if he was being a jerk and laughing at me, then the laugh is on him, because I laughed at me too. It was good. I learned more about myself and leadership than I ever have in a classroom. I am happy that I risked something and tested the ropes.
Posted by Just Emily at 4:02 PM