The summer of my seven-year-old existence, soon after I'd taught myself to walk across the bar on the swing set, my family took a trip to California to visit some family. What I didn't know was that my hard work at the swing set was about to pay off - big time.
We were at a huge park in California when I saw them. A high bar and a low bar. But they were different from the bar at the swing set back home - for one thing, they were much higher. For another, the actual bars were probably one fourth as thick around as the one back home. I didn't plan on attacking those anytime soon.
There was a group of girls, girls that were probably ten years old. I remember looking at them and wanting to be a part of them. So, in my seven-year-old innocence and courage, I walked up to their group and asked if I could join them.
They said no. More correctly, the "coolest" girl of the group, who was wearing a navy blue jacket that I really, really liked, said no.
In my defiance, I stated, "Well, I can walk across the low bar over there!"
Gaping, the group of girls (all except the "coolest girl," who was wearing a navy blue jacket that I really, really liked) followed me to the low bar.
I got up there. I looked at the vast distance I was about to trek across. It looked terrifying. Taking a deep breath, I tentatively took the first step.
The thing about walking across the bar on a swing set is that once you take that first step, you're committed. So I quickly walked across the rest of the bar, jumped down when I'd reached my goal, and looked expectantly at the group of girls.
Their jaws were dropped. Their faces were filled with wide-eyed, ten-year-old shock. I had just accomplished the impossible. They rushed over to the "coolest" girl, the one wearing the navy blue jacked that I really, really liked, and exclaimed, "That girl can walk across the low bar!"
To my chagrin, the girl shook her head. "I don't believe it," she said, utterly unimpressed.
I was furious! After all my hard work, the girl didn't even believe what I'd done. Instantly filled with adrenaline, I exclaimed, "I can walk the high bar, too!"
"You really can?" Her face was filled with genuine awe.
No, I thought. "Yes," I said.
So once again, the girls followed me over to where I would walk across the bar. Somehow, I managed to climb up onto the high bar, where I held on for dear life. Was I really about to attempt the unthinkable?
At that moment, it didn't matter that I was about to risk my life over something so stupid as trying to impress a group of "cool" people. It didn't matter that I was acting on impulse. I knew one thing: it was better to die honorably than to forever live with the shame that I had backed down to a group of girls who thought they were better than me. If I was going to die, at least it would have been for a good cause.
And so, I took that first step. And the next. And the next.
And I reached the other side. Success!
I jumped - rather, fell - from the bar and turned expectantly to the girls. They were all in shock, except for the main girl. She flipped her blonde hair and shrugged, before heading in another direction - which, of course, meant that all the other girls left, too.
But I'll never forget the look on the face of the "coolest" girl, the girl that wore the navy blue jacket that I really, really liked. Before she walked away, I saw a look on her face that made all my efforts worth it. It was a look of complete amazement...and annoyance that I had proven her wrong.
And in that moment, nothing else mattered.