My youngest daughter is not just a gymnast, she is a good gymnast. She amazes me with her athletic ability, physical strength and attention to detail. Natural talent mixed with genetic disposition has given her the tools necessary for possible greatness, not to mention the fact that she is one of the lucky few that has a family lifestyle conducive to competitive sports. We are able to give her the time, attention, environment and respected coaches necessary to succeed, without much sacrifice. Her heart seems to desire future years of dedication, after all, she willingly misses birthday parties, play dates, school events and other extra curricular activities to come to practice and competition. She rarely complains. She hasn’t been one to make too many excuses, and she works hard. Gymnastics makes her smile.
But lately, the joy has waned. And yet, the desire has not.
The level of skills has increased dramatically over the last few months, moving faster than I think my daughter had anticipated. Her coaches have prepared her well, and she is physically capable. However, mentally she is weak and has hit a wall. The fear of trying new things has started to take over, battling her desire to succeed and progress. Many tears were shed last night. She is filled with frustration, anger and disappointment. She does not want to quit, and yet she is afraid to move forward. She is paralyzed, stuck in this in between.
It is heartbreaking to watch your child want something they have no ability to achieve, but it is even more defeating to know that what they want, and have the ability to achieve, is right within their grasp if only they could find more courage. Teaching our children perseverance, endurance or self-motivation is hard. But helping them overcome fear is something entirely different. Part of me wants to throw in the towel, quit, and feed the fear. But the other part of me worries that walking away too soon will only set a negative precedent that will follow my daughter her whole life. I don’t want to send the message that when things get hard or uncomfortable, just quit, even if you want it really bad. I worry the message might also be, you aren’t good enough anyway to be successful.
It would be one thing if she was just burned out, reached a point of disinterest or boredom. But she hasn’t. She adamantly rejected the option to quit.
The ability is there, I’m just worried the fear is greater.