Autumn is the season of kids growing up. Going to college. Pre-school. Moving away.

It’s all about playing big. Growing the boundaries of who we think we are into possibility.

I am watching both of my teenagers take giant leaps into the unknown to see just how big and grand they can become.  My 16-year-old daughter has left for the year to study abroad in Argentina. My 14-year-old son has left his local soccer to follow the dream of being a member of the US Soccer Developmental Academy.

They are both brave. They can speak very well of possibility. Neither is sure how it’s going to turn out. Neither made the safe choice. That’s the paradox of it. To live a life that feels filled with meaning and satisfaction requires not knowing. A leap of faith

They  are in the first part of the leap, soaring upward. They left their safe, grounded places. They have a vision of where they want to land. They are stretching every limb to get to the other side. Feeling a bit off kilter. Unsure how the rules work in this new space. Doubting themselves and feeling the thrill of the challenge all at the same time.

The first steps in the trajectory are up, up, up. It’s exhilarating and new and thrilling. Queasy. Emboldened.  I can feel helpless sometimes, watching. Hoping that sending energy and love and protection like telepathy will keep them strong on the inside.

I know the trajectory will come back down and they will land in a new place. The new place is rarely what we expected. They might stick the landing where they sought and be surprised it’s not what they expected at all. Or they might fall down. A place unexpected. Unwanted even.

Lows. Tears.

My daughter is finding struggle where she least expected it. Not in feeling homesick but instead in being held back by the constraints of Argentinian social norms and bureaucratic rules from showing up in all the ways that she wants to fully experience her adventure. But in the confusion of change, my daughter has found friends who appreciate and support her. She has learned how to speak her truth even when it makes people uncomfortable. Of meeting new friends, speaking one’s truth when it’s not going well.

My son has spent more time sitting and watching than playing some days. But from that shift he experienced the exhilaration of coming off the bench to provide the assist and then a goal in a tied game.

These kiddos will never ever be back at where they started at the beginning of August. They are falling down in big and small ways. They pick themselves up dust off, and begin from there. Then they find thrills they never expected. Big highs and lows  first place. And they will pick themselves up. Forever changed by the bravery of taking the chance.

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