The Lie I Tell Myself Every Day
My biggest fear is leaving a bad impression. Being a bad memory in someone else’s mind. At one point I cared so much about what people thought of me it made me physically sick.
Now I’m in a place where I don’t know if I’m leaving a bad impression or a good impression because most the people I’m impressing don’t speak English, including the eighty or so tiny humans running circles around me every day.
So I lie.
I say, “These kids won’t remember me. The teachers won’t remember me. The other volunteers won’t remember me. No one will remember me.”
It puts things in perspective.
The average person lives somewhere around eighty years. If my math is right that should be roughly 29,200 days and 700,800 hours.
My three months with these wonderful people is most likely less than .2 percent of their lives. In other words, they won’t remember me very well in twenty years.
So why spend time worrying about it?
Why spend time worrying about the four-year-old who dyed her teeth blue in class instead of her tortilla? Or how I dropped nearly everything today? Or how my last group got so much water everywhere I’m surprised no one slipped and died?
It was an ordinary day in first grade for these kids, they won’t remember my mistakes. All they’ll remember is eating blue tortillas, and they’ll probably forget that too.
It also gives me the freedom to fail.
When no one is watching I’m a freaking rockstar dancer. I leap around my room, play the air guitar, do fancy turns I learned when I was eight but still remember, and even dab. I still can’t figure out how to do the floss though. Don’t judge.
When no one is watching I can sing like you wouldn’t believe. At least I think I can. I’ll belt our The Cranberries’s Zombie or The Waitress’s When He Sees Me with all the confidence of the original artists.
Put someone in front of me though? Forget it. I’m not sure the world is ready for my dance moves.
Saying “no one will remember” is as effective to me as closing the door to my bedroom while I sing and dance.
I’m not afraid of what people will think because I don’t believe they’ll remember. I’m not afraid to fail because I don’t believe it will change anyone’s lasting opinion of me if I do.
So when I screw up my Spanish I remind myself the person I was speaking to doesn’t really care and will likely forget within ten minutes. So I’m not afraid to try again! And again, and again.
Sometimes though, people do remember.
I don’t think I’ll every forget holding Juan for an hour today while he cried for his mom. I just rocked him back and forth and wiped away the tears from his sweet face.
I don’t think my roommates and I will forget our yoga lesson turned twerking lesson tonight. Or how we so often find ourselves laughing so hard we can’t breathe.
Which is why “No one will remember” is a lie. We will remember. But I hope we’ll only really remember the moments that matter. The moments that define us and make us better.
I hope we can let the mistakes and punctuation errors of life slide into the junk drawer of our brains while keeping the moral of the story in plain view.
And I hope we can believe that other people will do us that favor. I hope we can believe no one will remember our simple mistakes and goofs so we can be free to fail.
So we can be free to become someone worth remembering.