Summer is the season when people leave gainful employment and stuffy classrooms to embark on adventures they have been dreaming of for months, maybe even years. For some it’s set, a week at the lake, cottage or camp, filled with experiences and images that will be shared again and again for generations. For others it’s more open-ended, they are starting a new chapter in their lives and don’t even know how the first sentence will end.
Thinking about both of those scenarios makes me smile. In the first one I envision a young family playing in a mountain lake. It’s a summer filled with firsts for their young child, the first time to make S’mores, ride in a sailboat and to swim without water wings. In the second scenario I envision the same little person years later. She swam competitively in school, can manage the sailboat by herself and is longing for a new adventure far beyond the mountain lake. She’s a little scared but nonetheless committed. From her studies she knows a bit of the language and history of the place she’s bound for and thanks to the net she’s found a few cheap sleeps and interesting things to do and see. But what allows her to go beyond her comfort zone and step into the void cannot be found in books, it’s found within her and has been growing there for years – it’s self-confidence. Self-confidence is that invisible force that allows a person to go beyond fear, doubt and logic to transform a dream into a work.
Self-confidence is one of the most important traits a person can have and should not be confused with conceit, arrogance or egotism, characteristics seen in many people to compensate for their lack of self-confidence. Self-confidence is the inner strength that allows us to do things that are naturally difficult for us. It empowers us to push through those walls of discomfort to reach the goals and standards we’ve set for ourselves.
The history of the American West is filled with stories of pioneers, Native Americans and explorers that demonstrated unimaginable self-confidence and courage. Their motivations may not have always been pure but their deeds and the country they discovered is amazing. If you feel a little overwhelmed by the challenge of starting a new chapter in your life put yourself in the boots of Lewis and Clark where if things went as planned you would be uncomfortable and if they didn’t you would never return. The truth is most of us are capable of doing a lot more than we think. Sadly I don’t have the secret on how to raise a self-confident child but the good news is self-confidence can continue to grow throughout ones life. That means this summer could be a critical time in your growth and development no matter what your age. Maybe you should start planning your summer vacation today and if you haven’t explored the America West give it some consideration. Happy travels!
Here is a short video of a bicycle ride Sue and I did from Portland Oregon to Flagstaff Arizona in 2012. The states pictured are Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Arizona. Much of what you will see was part of the Oregon, Lewis and Clark and the Mormon Trails. I hope you enjoy our photos and John Denver’s music.