You Can’t Do That.

15 Apr

Everyone of us has someone (or a group of someones,) somewhere, telling us:

You can’t do that.

I remember, as teenager and young adult, my grandmother used to say, “You can’t reach that.” FYI, I’m short. I know I’m short. Short people either learn how to reach stuff because they’re short, or they have to wait for someone tall to come along. She didn’t mean anything by it; my grandmother was used to being told that she couldn’t do things, too. Yet she got her GED while my mom was in high school, worked for the government, traveled the world, and was the first single woman in a city nearby to buy and own her own home. She was one B.A. Nana.

My first instinct when someone tells me I’m incapable of doing something is to reply, “Watch me.” Usually, I succeed, or something close to it, because the challenge motivates me.

Sometimes, though, I can’t do stuff. Then those naysayers get some kind of gratification and get to say, “I told you so.”

You know what my response to that is?

So what?

If I’ve done my best and failed, and all you’ve done is tell me I can’t do it along the way, then I’ve done more than you, and that’s worth way more than your inaction. It’s worth more than standing idly by and telling me “no,” rather than helping me achieve “yes.”

Those “no’s” come from a place of fear, which means sometimes they come from inside our own heads, especially if we’ve heard the word often enough from other people. But there’s nothing to fear from trying, whether that ends in success or failure, because:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Listen to Winston. Don’t lose your enthusiasm. So what if you fail? So what if it doesn’t work out? So what?
Here’s what. You have a couple of options:
1) You can let it stop you, let it define you as a loser or a failure, someone undeserving of a second chance or being recognized for your bravery and effort.
2) You can mourn the mess-up, and treat yourself lovingly, as a human being worthy of growing and learning and becoming an even better you. You can either take the failure as a sign to move on and do something else, or you can try again as many times as you like, because you can use every failure as the foundation for your awesomeness.
You can change the way you view failure and success.
Like most kids, I changed my mind every few minutes about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a “curly q” (a gymnast,) an architect, a forensic pathologist, an artist … a giraffe.
Yep, I wanted to be a giraffe. Maybe it’s because giraffes were tall and graceful. Maybe they reminded me of my mom, 5’8″, with long legs and knobby (but cute) knees and ankles. Maybe it’s because they were exotic and wild and free, able to see the view from above all of the other animals’ heads.
Obviously, I didn’t grow up to be a giraffe. I’m 5’3, petite but a little curvy, and resemble a cat or a chipmunk more than a giraffe. (No cool purple tongue, either.) One of the best compliments I’ve ever received, though, was from a car salesman, who, when I told him I didn’t want a larger vehicle, asked me my height. When I told him, he said, “Really? You act taller than that.” So, I may not look like it, but in my head, I’m still thinking giraffe. And it shows.
They way you see yourself shows.
It also affects how you treat other people. You see, no matter how many times my grandmother succeeded in life, she never stopped listening to and believing the people who told her she was a failure. They all joined in with the little voice in the back of her head that said “you can’t do that,” so that’s what she said to others. That’s how she viewed the world.
Stop insulting yourself, and stop insulting the world. You’re worth the effort it takes to acheive whatever it is you view as success, and the world is getting its feelings hurt.
Don’t tell me “you can’t do that.”
I’m a giraffe.

One Response to “You Can’t Do That.”


  1. Cute of the Day! « Chelsea, like England - April 19, 2012

    […] shared the topic of my “You Can’t Do That” post with my mom, because I knew she would appreciate it. A few hours later, she posts this […]

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