My spirits have been crushed. Everything I thought I knew about myself is now under review. I keep thinking “How could I have been so unaware, so unable to read a room?”
Apparently, I’m living in an alternative universe where I think I have certain unique talents only to find what that the one thing I thought I excelled at I actually have zero aptitude for.
I have, for years, thought that I was the master of the pep talk. I believed I was the go-to person for anyone seeking an inspirational speech that artistically combined words of wisdom with the just right of amount of sass, delivering the perfect melding of a bear hug with a kick in the butt.
I even thought my pep-talking abilities were so superior that I would offer up them up to strangers that I thought were distressed, from people in line at Target to QuikTrip employees. Recently, my pep talk mojo was unceremoniously crushed like a piece of driveway chalk getting run over by a three-ton SUV — and my children are to blame.
It happened when I was with my daughter in California. She was there to do auditions for a college program. Right before she went in to perform, I, believing I was the goddess of pep talks, started my soliloquy of “go get ’em” and “you’ve got this.”
As I’m delivering what I’m certain was solid gold, my child uttered three words that forever changed my life: “Mom, just stop.”
“What do you mean ‘just stop?’” I asked very worried that she was being overcome with emotion as the greatness of my pep sank it. My daughter gave me a side-eye while sharing very matter-of-factly that I “give the worst pep talks ever and it would be better if I just didn’t say anything.”
I did exactly what any parent would have done in that situation — decide her child is overcome with nerves and can’t handle the majesty of her parent. Yes, I totally blew off her comment and continued to bask in the power of pep.
The next day, my son picked us up from the airport and just to ensure (really, I was fishing for a compliment) that my pep talks were, indeed, legendary, I asked him on the ride home — while laughing, because, hello, it was hysterical that my pep talks were anything but exceptional — if I gave “the worst pep talks ever.”
Not missing a beat, he answered yes as in “Yeah, mom, they’re painful.”
Hmm, I pondered, not ready to believe what I was hearing.
“Do you mean like so inspiring they’re painful? You know like a good pain. Or, do you mean that the truth that rings through them hurts, but in the best motivational sense?”
“No, I mean they’re cringe-inducing, like we can’t wait till you stop.”
Oh. My. God. My life’s true calling is a fraud. What I thought was a gift is a gaffe.
I was so low there was nothing else to do but, that’s right, give myself a pep talk.
I went into turbo pep mode and, by the time we passed the IKEA on I-35, I felt not only better, but also vindicated. I pepped myself into thinking my children are fools and wouldn’t know awesome if it smacked them upside the head.
Someday, they would realize the wonder of their mother and until then I would proudly pep on. So, if anyone needs a motivational pick-me-up, you know where to find me.