Firsts are scary. They are an unknown realm. Like dreams, they have an unpredictable future which can set our nerves on edge. People are more secure with what they know and events that they can predict. But what would the world be like without firsts? What if no one tried anything new? And I don’t just mean scientific discoveries and fresh inventions. A child cannot become an adult without taking first steps and starting to explore the world. Each ‘first’ that a person reaches, shows them lessons and affects their growth as a person.
I remember my first airplane ride. The terminal was a long walk into unknown territory. The plane itself was nothing I had ever seen. I think I was five so the details are sketchy, but I remember the texture of the seats and the view from the window. The world looked so different, even before we left the ground. I was taller, and special. I realized that there were things in the world that I didn’t understand, nor would I ever truly know how they worked. And that was okay. The world had a sense of adventure and suddenly all sorts of things were possible. The plane took off, and I could fly.
My first bike ride was slightly scarier. I wasn’t as far off the ground but the vehicle was under my control. I was unstable and wobbling and felt fear. I was mad at my dad for making me do this and I remember crying, struggling to gain control. Every time he let go of the bike seat, I was on my own, not sure of what I was doing. I fell again and again. Pressure from my father made me get up and try again. Eventually I learned to ride the bike, and I’m glad I conquered that ‘first’. But it was not an easy learning experience. It was a struggle.
The first day of school I don’t remember at all. But I know that it was important. I wonder how that ‘first’ was on my parents. Having them let go and send me off on my own. They probably felt more afraid than I was. I was off meeting new friends and being led by a different adult. They were left behind, forced to trust someone else with their only child. But them letting go was necessary. I learned from other people, learned about things that they couldn’t teach. I began to venture off on my own and become my own person.
Some firsts are magical, others gruelling and scary. Some are harder for those left behind, watching. But we learn about the world, and about our own character, from each first. We learn that we can venture into unknown territory and survive. We learn that we can struggle at first, but still eventually succeed. We learn to discover the world and ourselves. And we learn to be brave.