Into the Deep End

ImageOn Monday we went swimming at my sister-in-law’s pool. It has a diving board and a ten foot deep end, so Ella was all pumped about being able to dive and jump into the pool. But once she went off the diving board, Jonathan wanted to go too. He stepped up on the board and got ready to go, but the lifeguard blew his whistle and stopped him.

“You can’t go off the diving board with a life vest on. You have to be able to swim,” he said.

Rachel talked with him and let him know that Jon could kind of tread water. The lifeguard said that as long as Rachel were in the deep end, holding onto the wall, Jon could jump off and she could then swim out and get him. That seemed fine, so Jon took off his life vest, Rachel slipped into the water, and my son stepped up onto the diving board.

And he jumped.

He made a satisfying splash, and as soon as his head came back above water, he smiled. But the panic took over because he realized he didn’t really know what he was doing. He started paddling, and suddenly, for a split second, he disappeared under the water…

…until Rachel brought him back up. She had him. He was safe. Together they swam to the pool wall and climbed out. Jon had triumphed. Everyone clapped. It was cool.

But then Jon spent the rest of the day in the kiddie pool. He was too scared to even go in the shallow end of the big pool. In fact, he actually spent most of the day huddled in my lap, sipping his juice, too scared to get near the water. The episode with the diving board just chilled him on having any more pool fun.

This morning, I know how he feels. I tried to make the move to the big time as a writer. I ordered new business cards with the blog logo. Easy. Then, I upgraded my WordPress to a premium account.

Not so easy.

Well, the process was easy. Everything went smooth as silk, got the domain that I wanted, got the site linked to it. And then I went to the part I was really excited about – customization. I was ready to make the blog look like I wanted, ready to bring my vision to life.

But the tools were limited. I don’t know what I was expecting, but essentially I paid $100 for a domain and the options to change a limited number of fonts and colors. Which, by any standard, is a steep price to pay. I immediately regretted it.

WordPress has a great refund policy, so I was able to cancel my purchase. I expect to get a full refund in a couple of days. But that still left me without my goal – a completely personalized website, with my own domain.

So I did some more research and learned that I could get everything I wanted through for around $70. Being cheap, I signed up.

I’m excited. I can download the package and transfer my blog completely over to my new website. I can have personalized email at my own domain. I can open up a store and sell ebooks or t-shirts or coffee mugs if I want.

But the domain is in limbo because I made that stupid mistake with WordPress.

And immediately, I felt my stomach knot up. I felt like I wanted to vomit. Like Jonathan off the diving board, I suddenly seized with fear that I’m an idiot, I can’t do this, that I’m going to make more and more mistakes until I eventually screw my life up so bad I can never recover.

The reality is, I might have to change the domain name to something ending in .net or .org. Big deal. There’s worse mistakes.

But for me, it’s part of the process of breaking free: I’m learning that I can make mistakes – even big ones – and my life doesn’t end. Before, I felt free to make small mistakes, but never big ones. Never. It was why I never risked anything; when you risk, you open up the door for big mistakes, and big mistakes can set you back.

But they can also set you free.

I’m hoping that the domain issue is resolved in a day or so, and I can begin building my website and get it transferred over by the weekend. The neat thing is I can import everything from this blog to the new site, no content lost. The even neater thing is I have the opportunity to add personal skills that can make me more attractive as a freelancer as well.

Today was a huge step into the deep end. For a minute, I thought I was going to drown. But I know now that I can swim.

That’s a victory.

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