Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ready, Set, Go! (And other Christmas shenanigans)

Ready, set, GO!

Clamoring. Excitement. That's what filled the apparatus bay as a dozen Explorers scrambled into their bunker gear. We pulled on hoods, threw on air packs, and firmly strapped on our helmets until we resembled something of a team. Alarms beeped angrily, announcing who'd forgotten to close their air valve. For once, it wasn't me! 
After tangling my SCABS strap, my adrenaline kicked into high gear. Why couldn't I be faster? But my shaking hands did little to improve my coordination. 
My heart raced as I pulled on my gloves and slapped my helmet, announcing my finish. Our advisor spun around. "Minute-forty!" He called out. He held a stop watch on his phone. 
I sighed and slipped off my mask, biting my tongue. Really? A minute-forty? It was my best time. Far under the national standard of 2 minutes, but nowhere near where I wanted to be. Sweat licked my jaw as I unbuckled my coat and set it up to try again. I tried to recall how I'd seen it done, and glanced over at Eric's gear. Eric is an assistant advisor, and younger brother to the post advisor. Both have competed with honors, and now work at the same department, bringing high hopes to our messy band of Explorers. 
I am glad for that, for their excitement. It sees past the now, and sees what we can become. 
"Hey, that's a good time." 
Our advisor walks over to me. I hesitantly meet his gaze. "That's a really good time." 
I nod and stay quiet. It is. For now. 

I'm still learning how to accept encouragement. How to react when people care. It's certainly not something I'm used to! 
I've never seen the passion they've shown to teach, to grow, and to support us. It's amazing.  It's so easy to give up hoping things will change. That people will change. 
It's easier to feel lonely, than to take a chance with strangers. Yet, taking a chance is exactly what I need to do. Yes, I may have lost hope along the way. But our spirit is growing. 
They need me to step out, letting go of any expectations; and show them how passionate 
I am to learn. 
My teammates see in me, a leader. Someone they are trusting to encourage, teach, and prepare them for the challenges ahead. 
How can I accept that responsibility? 
Because someone else is preparing ME. 
If I ask, I get an answer. If I voice my ideas, they are respected. When I need help, all I have to do is humble my pride, and my instructors. are happy to show me. Here, amid the chaos and whirring sirens, the beat of my own drum doesn't sound so different. So weird. 
That's enough to make me think I can succeed. That we can succeed. It takes trusting the person next to you. Scary? Yeah. But I don't do it alone. 

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