When in my early 20’s, I had the opportunity to dance on a clogging team that traveled the world.
They danced with Mickey at Disney, in front of the president in the White House, and in countries overseas. They appeared in 1984 on CMT’s Hee Haw Clogging Contest. Closer to home, they danced in Columbia and Wallhalla, S.C. where I joined them.
Pam Collins, the team’s leader, held an audition. I attended.
“You’re good enough,” she said. “You just have to decide if you’re willing to put in the work to build your confidence in front of an audience. Sometimes a big audience.”
I danced with the team at one or two local events before I quit. I decided it wasn’t for me.
Truth is, I quit because I was uncomfortable. I quit before I fell, failed or both. I quit because she was right, it was going to take a lot of performance time to overcome my stage fright. I convinced myself I didn’t have what it takes.
I wish I could say “I never looked back.” Truth is, some days I stared at the past, but the gift of that missed opportunity has shown itself time and time again. Talking with a friend about a hard choice her son-in-law has to make, she said, “I just don’t want him to have regrets.”
“Sometimes that’s the only way we learn. I walked away from something really important and regretted it. I learned not to do it again,” I said.
Thinking back, that lesson is most likely why, uncomfortable and scared, …
I went back to school three times for degrees that advisors told me were required to reach my career goals.
I called about a house I was convinced God wanted us to have even when our bank account, calculator, and common sense said we couldn’t afford it.
I commuted nearly five hours one way to take a writing class under an editor of a regional newspaper. When she didn’t publish me the first time around, I took the class again.
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Henry David Thoreau’s advice about regret is “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”