"But I'll Figure It Out"

Published on July 2nd, 2019
Evelyn climbing over rocks at the beach.

Family vacation 2019 was idyllic. We were able to experience everything from fresh-off-the-dock Maine lobster to waking up to the sounds of horse hooves clicking on the roads while deep in Amish country in Upstate New York. There are too many highlights to share in a single article. But as a parent, there is one memory that will be forever burned in my brain.

“I Don’t Know How I’ll Do It…”

My daughter absolutely LOVES the beach. Two years ago we were on vacation at Plum Island, and she was enthralled with the sand, the waves, the shells, and literally everything else she could experience. Unfortunately, the beaches in Colorado will never compare to the aliveness of ocean waves and tides, so we maximize every opportunity we get when we travel.

This time, she discovered a new passion: rock climbing. Coming from Colorado, you would think at 5 years old that she might already have years of experience under her belt. However, the ocean is a bit different. Rocks are sometimes wet and covered with moss. Her love of feeling the sand between her toes left her shoeless. This made things a little more challenging when she approached the pile of stones in front of her.

At one point she approached a pretty large gap between two boulders. I could see the determination in her eyes with a momentary flinch of fear. We’ve both been there before, but I looked her in her eyes, reached out my hand, and told her, “I believe in you.” That one shot of confidence got her over the gap.

Little did I know what I just unleashed…

Determination flooded her body, and she wanted not just to climb a few rocks, but she wanted to walk the entire coast. I must admit I was excited and terrified at the same time because there were some places that I felt would be too dangerous for both of us. Yet she was determined to make it happen.

Then she said something that gave me a shot of confidence and pride. She stepped up to a tricky descent that didn’t have a clear way down. Rather than give up, she said simply:

“I don’t know how I’ll do it, but I’ll figure it out!”

"...But I'll Figure It Out."

We have a mantra in the Manelius family: “Figure It Out.” Life will stump us with dead ends, roadblocks, and so forth. However, we all are creative beings with resources all around us. If we are resourceful and determined, we can achieve so many things.

My daughter not only picked up this mantra, but she was also actively applying it. So for the next few hundred yards, we scrambled up and down boulders while she led the way. I always made sure I was right there to lend a hand if she asked for it, but otherwise, I allowed myself to step back. I was proud and impressed by how well she navigated and problem solved. Only once did she take a misstep and slip into the ocean, but I was right there to catch her. It was actually a blessing because she LOVES snail shells, and she found herself within inches of a rock covered in them.

As a parent, it’s hard to state how proud I am that she is learning to embody this lesson. Even in the face of “I don’t know how…”, she approached the day with the sense of belief in herself and her abilities. I hope this lesson stays strong within her the rest of her life.

I will never forget this experience.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.