When I was a little girl playing hockey, we had a tournament where we got t-shirts. The t-shirt was a girl stopping on skates and the saying read “Don’t tell me what I can’t do”. I was young and didn’t fully understand what it meant. I thought about that saying all the time. I never knew why, but it always stuck with me. What did that mean, don’t tell me what I can’t do?
As an adult, and as the independent, stubborn, grown up female that my mother raised, I now get it. And I completely agree, DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO.
This can refer to so many things. There are too many time in life when people try to inadvertently tell you what you can’t do. They may tell you flat out, you can’t do that. They might start to ask several questions that they know you don’t have the answers to yet because you are still learning. They may come off sarcastic in the conversations, they may tell you stories about all the people who have failed trying to do what you want to do. They may forbid you from doing it. They may remove the support they have given you in the past. Some people do it simply because they are negative people, some do it because they know THEY CAN’T and there fore they don’t want to see someone else succeed, and unfortunately some do it because they love you. That’s right, they do this because they love you.
Many times the people that love you the most think that because they love you that makes them automatically supportive, a default support system no matter what they say or do. It does not. Love does not equal support. The people that love you the most have the hardest time thinking that you may fail, or that you may get hurt. It scares them so much that they often make you feel like you shouldn’t/can’t think outside the box, strive for something greater than average, go for the gold so to speak, all because you might not succeed. But how will you ever succeed if you don’t try. I think about my 3 year old son. I think about how many times I listened to him struggle to get the words out that he was trying to say, I watched him fall several times while he learned to walk, I watched him struggle to put his socks on, and fail at potty training! I love that child more than anything, but if I wanted to shelter him from failing, getting hurt, or feeling bad, I would have a small child, and someday an adult child, who couldn’t speak, couldn’t walk, couldn’t dress himself, and couldn’t use the restroom. This would be a child who also couldn’t do anything fun because he is now limited in his own mind and in his abilities. He would never feel the pride that comes with success if he wasn’t allowed to fail, struggle, fall down, and miss the toilet every now and then. Why is being an adult different? How will any of us ever succeed if we don’t fail?
Don’t tell me what I can’t do. Give me a challenge and I will give you a result. I will prove that I can do anything I choose. I may break down. I may get tired. I may get frustrated and threaten to quit. And the minute you say I told you so, I’m back on my feet to tell you, Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do! I might cry. I might get addicted to coffee. My house chores may have to wait, and my house may not be clean. My laundry may not get done. I might not get everyone in my life a birthday present this year. I might not buy my kids every single adorable piece of clothing I walk past in the store. I might say no to going out to eat. Does this mean that I am struggling and I need help? NO! This means that I am working to make a difference in my own life, and I am refusing to live with CAN’T! I may have bags under my eyes. I may be a hermit for a week, a month, or more. I may choose to focus all my money on student loans. I may choose to do or not do anything to get where I want to be, period! Does this mean I need your pity? No! I need your support! We all need support at one time or another. We all need to feel the pride of success. We can’t fully feel this if we don’t fail first, get frustrated, fall down, or feel bad. We can’t fully experience this if we don’t try what they said we can’t do! I again think about my three year old. I’ve watched this child try and put together a puzzle. He was frustrated. He whined and cried because it was hard and he didn’t know which pieces went where. He gave up for days at a time. And one day he worked and worked and finished it. He jumped up and down with his hands in the air for 5 minutes straight yelling “I did it. I did it!” He even did a victory dance around the kitchen. He was so happy and so proud. If that puzzle was easy, or if I put it together for him he wouldn’t feel that excitement, that pride, that confidence. If I told him he couldn’t, he would have quit and would forever think that he couldn’t or he wasn’t capable or smart enough.
So, Don’t tell me what I can’t do. Give me a challenge and I will give you a result. See my victory dance around the kitchen as my confidence beams! Get frustrated, fall down, and fail . . .and enjoy your victory dance when your time comes.