I’ve recently become a father for the first time in my life. We’re a proud family with a wonderful babygirl now, and it would take much more than one post to express the happiness our little girl brought to us a month ago.
Still, this exciting change in our lives has made the famous saying so obvious once again: there is a first time for everything.
We’ve been waiting for our baby to be born so much that the joy of planning our future as a family of three had practically blocked off any worries. Everything happened in a very natural way, and there wasn’t much of stress at any stage of the whole 9 months. We’ve decided to have our first child, and one bright and sunny day she had blessed us with her birth. There was no panic, there was no fear – but there were happiness and impatient curiosity. And it’s only now, a month later, that I’ve realised how lucky we were not to worry about anything, or should I say, not to worry so much about the baby. We’ve been doing other things while we were expecting our baby, and firstly they kept us occupied, and secondly they helped us feel somewhat progressing as we could do something about so many things while we couldn’t do anything at all and had to simply be patient with our baby. We’ve been really lucky at this.
When was the last time you’ve done something for the first time in your life?
I remember, there was a TV ad which asked you the same question. In this ad, some lucky woman was learning how to fly a helicopter and she was just trying to land on the helipad of a magnificent Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. I remember, back then I instantly felt envious – it’s a stunning hotel with an amazing scenery and flying a helicopter is something I certainly wouldn’t mind learning myself at some stage. Rest assured, the images from this ad have secured some place in my mind along with the lines, and that’s how I started questioning myself the same question.
So when was the last time you’ve done something for the first time? And what feelings do you remember associated with such an event?
Quite often we feel almost forced into doing something, and this is when doing anything for the first time feels really painful. It’s very easy to see any challenge from the scariest of its sides, and then you have only two choices: overcome your fears and go through the challenge anyway, or give up and live with the feeling of being not maybe a loser, but definitely someone weak. We generally don’t like being or feeling weak, so if you’ve given up on anything challenge in the past, you know exactly the feelings and thoughts that then haunt you for a good few years if not for the rest of your life. As time goes by, you feel more and more stupid, thinking and playing the situation back in your mind, confronting the same circumstances and talking yourself into being quite capable of doing such a thing, but somehow not being confident enough when you had to be.
You can’t change past. So try and get it right the first time.
There’s rarely anything you can do about things in the past – so it’s an art of letting things go that you have to study if you’re still being haunted by such thoughts, as for me, I always like pushing myself this extra bit harder, to see if the challenge is really something I can’t overcome. I easily get excited about new challenges, but I try my best not to rush things or do anything stupid. Still, there’s always this positive doubt I give every challenge – is it really so worthy that I can’t manage? I always doubt it and always try my best to cope with the situation. And guess what? I mostly succeed! :)
One day that changed the world around me
I remember, back when I was 8 years younger, we went on a holiday with my family. We’ve had two wonderful weeks away on a beach with my mother and sister, and although there were many things and events which made that particular summer an unforgettable one, there was one experience I’d like to share.
One day I got obsessed with the idea of platform diving. There was one springboard installed on the beach, just off an old pier, and lots of guys enjoyed diving off this 3m construction. I was 18 back then, so it certainly wasn’t the first time I saw a tower like this. I’ve been jumping off similar things before and it never was a problem. The fun was there, I loved the feeling of being weightless for a fraction of a second when you’d jump as high as you can and there’s this second before you fall down and crush into the water making thousands of splashes… I love water and I genuinely enjoyed it all…
But I never thought of diving off such a thing. It looked so easy to do when you watched it from aside, yet so exciting! I figured, if it was exciting to watch someone do it, it would be so much more fun to do it myself. But when I got to the top of this tower and made a few steps on the springboard, I felt sudden weakness in my legs. When I had reached the side of it and could stand there and watch the gentle waves of a blue water below, I realised there was no way I could dive off this thing.
And so I became obsessed with the idea. For a few days in a row, I would climb up to the top of this tower, would come to the very edge of the springboard, and would stare into the water for I don’t know how long. First there was just the fear. Almost a primal fear and a feeling of being really stupid for trying to talk myself into doing something as ridiculous as diving off such an incredible height just because so many others could do it and I myself could not. My fear didn’t bring anything constructive – it wasn’t helping at all to fear the dive, as I was looking for some ways to actually do it. There were few lower heights which I’ve successfully used to have a dive or two, and it wasn’t as scary, but every time I climbed the tower I would feel horrified and would have to regretfully climb back down.
It’s been like this for a few days. At some stage the fear had grown to be so strong that I almost believed I’d simply kill myself if I force myself into diving. And then one evening I’d realised it was almost the time we went back home, our two weeks were practically over. This was when I realised that unless I push harder and manage to make a dive off the tower, this fear and regret will stay with me for a whole long year at least, till we come back again to the same beach and the same tower. And this thought came as a shock to me. I wasn’t prepared for a whole year of regretting something which would only take 1 second to do.
And so, I did my best to enjoy the following day. I had laughed with my mother and sister, we had a wonderful lunch together, I had read a part of interesting book but left it unfinished. So I made my day the best it could be, and gradually prepared it all to peak at the evening dive I had decided to attempt.
In the evening, I headed to the tower myself, steadily climbed up to the very top, cast a final look at the beautiful scenery, and dove in.
It was a few seconds before I’d realised I was alive. It’s not that I expected to kill myself, but I think I was fairly surprised to be absolutely okay when I surfaced. I was shaking with the excitement, I barely made it out of the water, and only then I looked around and realised that the world around me would never be the same.
It truly was an epic moment for me. All the bright colours of the evening sky became even brighter. The sound of waves kissing the sand was richer and louder. The warm wind felt like it never did before. And the tower – it seemed small and casual, it held no fears for me at all.
This was all I needed back then. I was happy with myself, and my worries were gone – it was a holiday of a lifetime, and I got back to our city being a completely different person. This was the lesson I’ve learned once and for all – there is a first time for everything, but all your worries are nothing but the fear of something unknown.
Transforming impossible into something achievable
So often we look at something and tell ourselves: no, this is impossible. I can’t do it. Sometimes our challenges seem to be so scary we believe no one can cope with them. But all it takes to change our view of the challenge is someone to go through this challenge successfully. Just one person. Just once. And this is quite often enough for you to go on.
I’ve learned to push myself hard enough to go through most of the challenges on my way. If I look at the problem and it seems scary to me, I always try and see if it would seem to be as scary to others. If anybody can do it, so can I. And over the years of applying such approach, I’ve grown to sometimes be the first one to do something. There isn’t a fear here, instead I concentrate on the inspiration I could be. Firstly, an inspiration to myself, and secondly, to others. We, people, are so easily persuaded by a visual demonstration of something. Many things we won’t believe unless we see them ourselves, but when we do, there is this instant transformation of something impossible into being quite real and achievable.
So have no fear, no matter what. Look for constructive ways to tackle the problem, and never think of anything as being impossible unless it really is :) That is, unless there is a mortal danger, go out and try to reach the top, approach the problem from various directions, try different things at different times, but never give up.
There is a first time for everything. It is in your power to make this first time something really good to remember.