If I've learned anything over the past two years, it's that most people struggle with those same two gremlins: fear and feeling inferior. (Gremlins are legit scary to me, by the way, dating way back to when I was about six years old.) Sometimes, you've got them under control, and sometimes you spill water on them and they screw up your life. I've taken flying leaps before. Some that worked out and some that didn't work out. I've stopped doing things I love because of fear and an inferiority complex.
Roller derby, which was the love of my life, was the most intense relationship I've ever had. It was a flying leap to get into it. I constantly was pulling myself back because I didn't want to get physically hurt or hurt others. I remember those first few months just saying I was going to make it til the end of the season, then I was going to quit. But then I fell in love with the sport and my team and my identity as a rollergirl. But I never fully gave myself over to it. I always held back. I was terrified. I wasn't good enough. And I was right. The best players are brutal, strategic, well-practiced machines. I was not.
The one area of my life that I am the most certain of is library. I know, it seems weird. My life was in chaos with transitions on multiple fronts, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. I felt like I was moving forward after being encased in stone. While my sunshine-haired boy napped, I sat on my couch chatting with an accomplished woman whose reputation preceded her to our meeting. Ice pack wrapped around my ankle, I confessed to Dr. P (a woman who would later become dear to my heart) that I didn't think I could be a school librarian. I didn't think I was good enough to make it in the Masters program. I simply couldn't risk my family's finances because I thought library "sounded neat."
She took my trembling hands in her experienced grasp, stared into my eyes, leaned forward and said with conviction, "You would make an excellent school librarian."
Still doubting myself, I signed up.
Still doubting myself, I went to my first two classes two months later.
Still doubting, I took a job as a school librarian when I had enough hours for a provisional certificate. My interview had been a hot mess of me passionately talking about what we could make the program at this school. How we could provide in new ways for their staff and students. How I was the professional librarian they needed. I cried when I was offered the job on the phone a few hours later.
Because I felt worthy.
Through the interview process something had flipped in me. The more questions they asked, the more I realized I knew the answers. I knew my profession. I knew myself. I knew the district.
And when I drove to class that night, I ran into Dr. P's office, and she pulled me into a tight hug while repeating what she had said three years prior: "You're going to be an excellent school librarian."
And that time, I felt it in my bones.
That galvanizing strength encouraged me to take more risks.
Present at a state conference. Leap.
Serve on a state organization board. Leap.
Write a book. Leap.
Put it out there for the world to see. LEAP.
And every time I've leapt, it's been with an army of supporters at my back and a human net in front of me. Bandaging my skinned knees and slapping my back. "Get back out there."
I hope you have those people in your life. If you don't, please allow me to be one of them because I firmly believe that each one of you can make an impact. You have a purpose. Maybe you just need someone or something to whisper:
Leap. Success or not: I've got you.
Mandy Peterson is the author of "Before I Shatter". She is also a mother, wife, librarian, book reviewer, and self-proclaimed chocolate connoisseur.