#SOL18 The Things We Think We Cannot Do

"We must do the things we think we cannot do"
-Eleanor Roosevelt 

Swirly slides that splash you into the deep part of the pool. New bikes. Swimming lessons with a different instructor. Bikes without training wheels. Keynote speeches written and given. These are the challenges my children and I have been facing this summer. The scary, uncertain things we think we cannot do that are also exciting and exhilarating and make us grow. 

Last week I talked about the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and who we are not. Those stories often stop us from doing the things we think we cannot do. It is safer for our psyche to say "I don't need to ride a bike. I will play baseball" (my son) then admit that riding a bike could be hard without training wheels. It might be hard for a while. It might take time to get it right. But if we tell ourselves that bike riding is not for us and we are not the kind of person who could ride a bike, that isn't really true, right? It's the story we told ourselves to protect our feelings from something hard and uncertain. 

The freedom of pedaling down the street, the wind in your hair, the sun on your face. The fun of racing friends. Riding your bike down a path to the beach. Going on adventures. These are all the things you cut yourself off from by announcing "I'm not a person who rides bikes."

I've been thinking more and more about the limitations I've put on myself, the boxes I've put myself into. The "I could nevers" and the "I wouldn't be able tos". Are they really true? Or was I just protecting myself from the potential hurt that I would feel if I tried and got it wrong? 

For my children, for my students, for myself- we must do the things we think we cannot do. We must face our fears and be brave. We must realize that our thoughts are just stories we tell ourselves. We can challenge those stories when they limit our potential. 

My daughter's new bike had shaky training wheels to help her get used to riding a bike without training wheels soon. She was petrified at first. Flat out refused to ride her new bike. There were tears. But I'll never forget the look of joy and confidence on her little adorable face when she started pedaling on her own! She sang a song as she rode around the empty parking lot, a look of determination and pride on her face. She faced her fears, started believing she COULD do it, and...she did. 

As a new school year breathes closer each day, I want to remember the moment when "I can't" became "I can" and help more of my students have those moments. 
Like today's quote from C.S. Lewis, "We are what we believe we are." 


  1. I think this slice is an important one to share with your students at the beginning of the year. We ALL have to get out of the habit of telling ourselves that we cannot do things. Short of having a physical disability or impairment, we should never say never.

  2. This is something we need to remind ourselves, our children, and our student on a continual basis. It is easy to slip into the comfortable world of I don't do that sort of thing and in the process miss out on who we really are. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your kiddos.

  3. Such a wise post. I especially love the truth of this line:It's the story we told ourselves to protect our feelings from something hard and uncertain.

  4. Sounds like it's a summer of growth in the Sokolowski household! I used to teach an adult ed course "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!" Growth is painful but necessary. Don't we all know people who stay in the same rut all their lives and don't we feel kinda' sorry for them? Growth happens in lots of ways, but deciding to take a risk and then growing from it like you guys are doing is the best way!


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