As a child, I was seemingly fearless. I’m not sure whether I didn’t know to be afraid of what others might think, or whether I just didn’t care. Either way, childhood Vera was a force to be reckoned with. Seemingly oblivious to social pressures, I bravely catapulted myself into the world (bucktoothed and chicken-legged), excitedly carving my own path.
Without reservation, I tried my hand at just about everything. You might not know it looking at me now, but it turned out that I was quite the little athlete in my youth. I competed in nearly every athletic event known to man (including shot-put and javelin) and brought home trophy after trophy. Admittedly, my “talent” didn’t take me much further than regional competitions, but those shiny trophies sure did make me feel like I could do anything. I never worried about being inferior to others; I was just having fun.
I also loved being creative from an early age. My saint of a mother allowed me to stake claim to our dining room table for days on end, and to my father’s dismay, dinner was often served among craft supplies. Nothing made my heart sing more than loosing hours of my day in this way. Well, truthfully, nothing except maybe the moment where I could proudly share my work and beam, “I made that!”
I was never afraid that others would not like my handiwork. Quite the opposite, in fact. I saw worth in what I had made and I created opportunities to share it with others. I would walk door to door in our neighborhood, fearlessly selling my “masterpieces.” I even had my own booth at my school’s “Entrepreneurship Day” and was pretty excited when my classmates sported my jewelry. As a child, I felt confident in myself and unstoppable, really. I believed that the world was my oyster.
When I look back on those days now I can’t help but miss the innocent optimism and fearlessness so characteristic of my youth. As is the case for many of you, growing up meant learning tough lessons about social acceptance and the penalties of putting yourself out there. I quickly learned that my best efforts would not always win trophies or be received favorably. Instead, there were now others who seemed compelled to remind me that the world was in fact not my oyster. In tough times my dad would lovingly say, “The tallest trees catch the most wind!” Honestly, sometimes it really sucked being a tall tree.