Photo : incrediblethings.com
I used to volunteer at a place called Book End. Book End is a small store which raises funds for the public library by selling refurbished books and CDs at a very nominal price.
The process involves cleaning up the shabby looking books and CDs discarded by the library, evaluating and labelling the new price on the books, stacking them on the shelves and billing the books at the sales counter. There is also an administration department that deals with communicating with the sponsors, processing the donations, and organizing thank you parties.
I hung out in the administrative department most of the time but also got many interesting opportunities like refurbishing the books and CDs and trimming brochures with a paper cutting machine.
One fine day I was asked if I could man the billing counter for a day the following week. At first I accepted but soon found myself wondering If I could manage it. So in order to boost my confidence I went down the next day to observe the billing procedure.
I was very impressed by the person who was manning the counter that day! She did it with so much ease that that I felt incompetent. I pictured myself floundering and struggling to do the same. I was afraid I would be criticized by a customer for being too slow or racking up a bill or short-change. I suffered from performance anxiety so much that I called up the co-ordinator to let her know that I wouldn’t be able to fill in that day and that she would have to find someone else to do it.
I felt like such a loser. For years after that I cringed at my cowardice. I regretted having wasted a beautiful opportunity to learn a new skill, to experience something different and new. Above all, to prove to myself that I could cope and adapt to any situation that life threw at me.
Now I know that nothing can be learnt if I fear failure.
Now I know that nothing can be learnt if I fear making mistakes.
Now I know that nothing can be learnt if I fear getting hurt.
Now I know that nothing can be learnt if I fear change.
Now I know that nothing can be learnt if I fear the unknown.
Now I know that regret won’t get me what I want. I have instead replaced fear with curiosity and trust in myself and life.
I am ready to learn.