It may be comfortable in the middle, but I have repeatedly learned that “life” is at the edge. It’s quite pleasant to coast, but at some point the middle is just not going to get you where you want to go, and it can start to run the gambit of very limiting to downright shitty.

I am of course talking about assessing risk in your life and using it as a opportunity for growth. It may not be comfortable, but rising to a challenge not only creates confidence but additional momentum.

It’s like snatching one of those hovering coins in the old Nintendo Gameboy games that I used to play, and suddenly you’re the Super Mario equivalent to stronger and more resilient. I have been practicing risk assessment and follow through for some time. I have, but The Ginger Gent has not. Gone are the days where learning to walk was worth the risk of a bloody lip or crashing after standing up underneath the coffee table that is suddenly shorter than you (both happened to The Gent). I had to resist the urge to follow him wherever he went. If he was going to learn to get up, I would have to let him fall.

Failure is a far more patient and effective teacher than success. As uncomfortable as going out of your comfort zone is, I would hazard to say it is just as difficult if not more to watch your child doing this. No one can take our falls for us. That incomplete failure hangs on to us like gum on the bottom of our shoe, and stays with us wherever we go.

I had a conversation with my son the other day about fear. We talked about social fears, academic fears, and personal fears due to his speech impediment. About being misunderstood or embarrassed, and not being able to read or write like his peers. It affects every part of his life, and the fear it creates has increased at the same rate. I have had to work not to feel defeated or sad as I watched him struggle. I needed to step out of that emotional reaction to remind him that we all struggle with something, I had to wear an eye patch for a time as a kid for goodness sake!

Fear is the natural gift and challenge of being human. It keeps us alive, it keeps us on our toes. The chance to work with fear is what makes us strong. And so as we headed home from school hand in hand to the bus (yes I am currently managing the fear of drivers ed after years of antisipatory stress), I gave him some advice. Fear only wins if it stops you from trying. Also being brave is actually being afraid, but facing it while you are scared out of your skull.

So off we go to martial arts where we both hope to find some Super Mario coins that will prepare us to meet the lion, save the princess, be victorious!

About the Author

Kelly Wilk is a freelance writer and single mom to red-headed, Irish, Aries boy who is growing up way too fast. Follow their adventures on PinkPlayMags' parenting blog "The Ginger Gent" , and also on Kelly's own website and blog, Brave. Creative. Me at