My 11 year old is learning to cook. She's made dinner the past two nights. She's also learning to ice skate, taking weekly lessons for most of the year this past year. Watching her engage these challenges and observing the way she reacts interests me. Cooking comes more easily to her - and she beams with delight upon successfully creating a meal. Ice skating requires more effort. The footwork doesn't come easily. She risks falling down. She has to practice. And there is no immediate reward like there is with dinner. We've had several discussions about practice and determination and making incremental gains in regard to ice skating. She too often compares herself to another skater out on the ice. No one is pushing her to continue. But she wants it to come easily and is frustrated when it doesn't.
Watching her learn is like looking in a mirror. It's much easier for me to stay motivated to learn when I get instant POSITIVE feedback. It's hard to stay engaged in the process when I feel awkward and clumsy, when I fall down, when no matter how hard I try I can't quite get it right. But that's how learning about myself goes most of the time. It isn't easy to look at myself. It isn't easy to take responsibility for my own stuff. It isn't pretty to see how I create much of what I want to complain about. It's easy to compare myself with others and find all the ways I come up short. Much less satisfying to take a realistic look at me and acknowledge the ways I've grown when measured against myself at previous moments in time. And it's hard to give myself grace sometimes where I see that I still have a long way to go.
But how is she ever going to learn to do those things if she doesn't learn by watching me?