Rather, yesterday's life lessons were more philosophical, and unfortunately, much more trying to learn. Falling on your face jumping off a swing set is an easy lesson to learn. Instead, reaffirming that some of the most difficult things we do in life, are the most advantageous. And more to that, the mere fact that fear, even when present, is not an indicator of one's weakness, lack of confidence or hesitation. A lesson in self-confidence, and more valuable, a lesson in a lack of self-confidence. Lastly, courage, leadership and in driving where you want to go.
I came home from work yesterday emotionally exhausted. I was seriously drained. Even driving home I had to work hard to concentrate on the road before me. I certainly had no desire to go out to visit Moon never mind ride him, but I had to pick up my dog from H's and had promised to feed. Even getting her email saying she'd found a chance to feed herself, I still needed to get the dog, so I dragged myself from the house and down the road. Struggling to stay awake and aware during the drive.
Work had been...exhausting. Purely in an emotional way. I had an incredibly difficult conversation with my boss. One of those ones where you stand-up, say "Hey, over here! I do one hell of a good job. Lemme prove it.", and begin directing your career and your life.
Let me tell you, that as an introvert, who is not a conversationalist on a good day, never mind when confronting one's boss, it's a trying thing at best. Thankfully the whole thing went better then I imagined (he is a reasonable person), and I walked away with a hideous glimpse into my own personal being. That sounds stupid, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that I suddenly became horribly aware that I'm incapable of making an argument about myself without first identifying that I could very well be wrong. I also discovered that sometimes we can say things, without fully explaining what we're thinking, and it leads to a different message. And sometimes, we don't even realize what we really mean.
You see, awhile back I told my boss I didn't want to manage people. That's pretty much what I said. When he asked me about that statement, I, without pausing to think of my response, informed him that I don't think a 27 year old female can manage. Probably a distinctly sexist and age-ist thing to say, and here I was, saying it about myself. Very quickly I went on to explain that I believe up-managing (managing people older than yourself), along with managing your past peers, never goes well.
I distinctly recall him smirking and informing me how very wrong I am. I felt compelled to stick out my tongue and roll my eyes...it probably would have helped my case!
Needless to say, I found myself rethinking my route in life when I left his office. Sitting at my desk, trying to figure out where I want to go and how to best get there. Which is a struggle, when like me, you're ridiculously motivated by EVERYTHING. Can't one do everything??!
The entire conversation left me drained, but acutely conscious of the fact I had found the nerve to have that talk in the first place, and it was a success. Nothing like feeling like maybe, just maybe you can do what you imagine.
Which leads us to the barn.
Drained, I found my pony at the FURTHEST reaches of the field. AND covered in mud. Head to toe. Mud balls on his mane. I hopped onto him bareback anyway (a little scrambling required) and rode back to the arena. I really do love our little rides.
The barn was empty, so I set up a small x-rail grid (3 jumps, one stride between) and figured I'd do some jumping. It took me a good 40 minutes to get him clean...and by the time I was ready to throw the saddle on him, we had a small audience. Another rider and her mom, H, an old friend S, and their friend from out of Province. Plus little M and N to cheer us on.
And my heart began pounding in my chest...
Self-confidence in the tanker. Uh...ride? With audience?
You'd think I'd never shown before. : P
I had opted at the last minute to ride bareback, since I really, really feel like it does wonders for my jumping position. And I'm hoping if I train it well enough bareback, it'll be better when I put a saddle on. Probably not true, but one can hope.
So there I was, just trotting around, or rather, bouncing around the ring, with a group of spectators. And of course, they wanted to see some jumping. That WAS why I was out there...
I confirmed with the other rider that she had her cell phone pre-dialed to 911, and then headed for the grid.
...smoking my crotch on Moon's wither as we went through.
The out of province guest seemed to have quite the jumping competence, as she marched in, strided off my jumps and reset them to appropriate distances. S lent a hand as part of the jump crew.
And he deeked out of the last one.
And again. Same deeking.
Guest (to shorten the name of the out-of-provincer) noted that Mr. Moon was jumping a little shorter strided because of me being bareback and wasn't getting to a place to feel comfortable going over the last jump. So she shortened the last jump distance, reminded me to have some impulsion, and then sent me through again.
And we did it!
Until she suggested we up the middle rail to a 2' vertical so he actually jumped.
And we went again.
While they may have been humoring me, but my heart swelled when they told me that Moon had a lovely little tuck-up in the front over his jumps, and was really enjoying it. From his little head down happy corner after he finished, to his head tossing heading in, they thought Mr. Moon was enjoying his jumping.
And I wasn't smashing him in the face or wither either.
<Insert happy dance here>
I'll say it again and again, I LOVE knowing my horse is enjoying an activity. I can honestly say, we probably wouldn't do much jumping if he hated it. But knowing that he's actually enjoying himself, makes me sooo excited to do it some more. All I ever want is a willing and happy horse.
And it was extra awesome when they commented on how willingly he went through our narrow little jumps (maybe 6' wide), a testament to the fact he enjoys it.
Never thought I'd be jumping 2'. Never thought I'd be jumping it bareback. With Moon. You know what? Here was a life lesson on trying things, even if they seem scarey or intimidating. Even if you're not sure if you'll succeed and scared to fail in front of an audience. That sometimes, with the right help and encouragement, you can really make great progress in the things that scare you. And being scared isn't a bad thing. It's not something to keep you from trying. It's something to overcome. Something that keeps you safe.
But sometimes, going beyond the safe, trying what you're scared to try, but so desperately want to give a go at, really, really does work out.
In your career. In your riding. In your life.
Let me tell you, I drove home recharged, full of energy and ready to take on the world.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
- Dale Carnegie