The Path Towards Thriving | On Choosing The Front Row


Oh for the love of Pinterest.

I saw this image the other day. Seriously, it's awesome and such a great reminder to choose the front row. I want to be those people.

Did I ever tell you the story about the time Chris and I and his parents drove from Oregon to California to pick up a dog for my parents (Wyatt for those of you who've been around a long time)? This was before the kids were born - likely sometime around 2000.

On that trip we ended up at Six Flags outside SanFrancisco. Chris and his Dad wanted to go on this big giant roller coaster - one of those ones where you are strapped in over your shoulders, your feet dangle and you go upside down multiple times. Yep. I was hesitant but moderately interested. Into the line we went.

I had to look it up to see what it was called: Medusa.

We waited an hour for this ride.

During our wait I could feel myself becoming increasingly panicked about the situation in front of me. But I stayed in line. I don't remember now if I stayed in line because I wanted to or because they were talking me into it or because I felt like I had to because I'd waited so long already.

When it was our turn the three of us climbed into position on the ride and as the shoulder straps came down I instantly knew there was no way in hell I was going on this ride.

I yelled, "Excuse me! I need to get off."

My father-in-law thought I was kidding until he saw my face. Chris could see it too.

They released me from the shoulder strap and I walked over towards the exit. The people in line behind us yelled "boooooo" and made fun of me. I didn't care one little bit - not one bit - I was so happy to not be going on that ride. It was the right choice for me at that moment in time.

LESSON | There's nothing wrong with getting out of line.

Since then I've been on more rides and have come to love the thrill. For example, the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. I love that ride. It scares me every single time but I know I'll be okay. My first time riding it was with Katie and as they were strapping us in and closing the door (!!!) I looked over at her and said, "I don't think I can do this."

But I did.

And I freakin loved it.

And I've been on it close to 10 more times since that first time.

LESSON | We can do things we think we can't.

These days I do hard things I think I can't do more regularly. It's something I have to practice and choose and choose again. I'm getting better at recognizing it earlier - seeing it for what it is - an opportunity to be brave, to grow, to stretch myself, to leap. I'm lucky that I have a friend like Katie who encourages me to keep moving forward even when she can see and hear my fear and apprehension.

Here's the deal: I've been the people in the front row and I've been the people in the third row. I'm a crazy mixture of both those people and one or the other wins out at certain times based on circumstance, fear, confidence, etc. And that's okay.

To me thriving is actively engaging in those choices. Some days I'll step out of that line and other days I'll face those fears head on because I can do hard things.

55 thoughts

  1. Alicia

    2014-03-03 13:38:26 -0500

    Awesome post!

  2. Nancy

    2014-03-03 13:43:59 -0500

    I love that picture and I love this post! I completely identify with the ladies in the third row and I'm currently working to let myself be comfortable with that. I'm an introvert. I love spending time alone, and that's ok. Society can sometimes make you feel like you need to live life in the front row, and that's ok sometimes, but the real me is in the third row and that's ok too. Thanks Ali - great post.

  3. Grace

    2014-03-03 13:53:15 -0500

    We should never have to feel bad if we are different from everyone else, if we are being our real selves. I hate heights and I will not let anyone belittle me when I do not choose to do things involving heights!

  4. Dawaila

    2014-03-03 13:58:28 -0500

    I have a daughter that is 15 a pretty daring and outgoing girl despite the fact that I am not. We were just at Disney and she wanted to go on Tower of Terror...I did not! She said Mom we wont go if you don't want to, in that moment I had to decide if I was going to hold her back. I never want to be that Mom that is so scared that I stop my daughter from doing anything, needless to say we went YUK but then we went again! Am trying to be in the front row :)

  5. kelly libby

    2014-03-03 14:09:43 -0500

    Thanks, Ali!! I'm going through a very long term relationship break up AND I'm ending my job of 3 years. Sucks. Hurts. There's no way around that. But, I'm trying to be (more) brave and realize that I am okay to be myself. It's okay to say, "no. I don't want to do that" just because everybody else is doing something. I grew up being brave and a leader but when I'm going through an emotionally challenging stint, I become weak and want to just hibernate.

    you're blessed to have a good friend like Katie. I too need to remember that i can reach out and be vulnerable with a few of my good friends. They know me and will encourage me when I'm feeling my least brave.

    Your words really touched me today...

  6. Carolyn Williams

    2014-03-03 14:22:57 -0500

    This is really lovely. What a great reminder that we don't always have to be uncomfortable in order to thrive. But a little bit of uncomfortableness isn't always a bad thing!

  7. Pamela

    2014-03-03 15:13:21 -0500

    On getting out of line: I've been there! I love a good thrill ride, but have a healthy fear of heights. When we were kids, my cousin dragged me into the line for a really steep, tall water slide at the local theme park (no spirals or twists - just goes straight down). We grabbed our boards and spent an hour creeping up the staircase. When we finally reached the top of the slide nearly an hour later, I took one look down and told my cousin I'd meet her at the bottom - and nearly galloped back down the stairs. Since then, I've overcome a few bigger challenges. ; )

  8. Michelle o

    2014-03-03 16:02:24 -0500

    Inspiring as always!!! Awesome insight

  9. Sharyn

    2014-03-03 16:43:48 -0500

    Thanks Ali - I have been a third row kinda person this week, not necessarily by choice, but it is not sitting well with me. I know I want that front row. Just need to get there.

  10. Nita K.

    2014-03-03 18:13:17 -0500

    Thanks for this.

  11. Brooke

    2014-03-03 18:28:39 -0500

    I read this post last night before I went to bed. It's been a tough couple of days. Thank you!

  12. Kathleen M Smith

    2014-03-03 20:10:03 -0500

    Love that photo! Thanks for sharing. I always make a point of being in the front row as long as it doesn't leave the ground!

  13. Lisa W.

    2014-03-03 22:29:43 -0500

    Wow...thank you! I'm with Angie, lately I want to run out of the park. BUT somedays I think NO, not gonna get me down, keep plowing through! I know now its's ok to want to run, most importanly you gotta get back in line!

  14. Leslie S.

    2014-03-04 02:30:35 -0500

    Well said Ali! I love this post.

  15. J3SS1C4

    2014-03-04 06:39:48 -0500

    I saw this quote on Facebook and loved it as well! Thank you for sharing this... Such an awesome reminder to push through and be brave :)

    Oh, and I'm like you... Some days I can push through, some days I can't... This is especially true of my fear of heights. I've sky dived, abseiled, gone on the Slingshot in Bali, parasailed, climbed the Harbour Bridge, and other days I can't even stand near the edge of a lookout! :)

  16. Kristie S.

    2014-03-04 07:30:29 -0500


  17. christi

    2014-03-04 12:17:00 -0500

    when a friend posted this on FB a few months ago I posted "I'm happy in the 2nd row, enjoying the ride but not flashing the world or losing my hat"

    And now that I look at the photo again, how do we know that once the ladies in the 3rd row start to go up the incline they won't have just as much fun?

  18. 3girls1apple

    2014-03-04 15:13:46 -0500

    First row all day every day. But sometimes is definitely ok to seat one down. Great post!!!

  19. Barbara

    2014-03-04 18:44:03 -0500

    I learned early on that the A students sit in the front row. Through out school and college, I was happy with this because I always wanted A's. Once I got a job in a major corporation, the introverted side of me came out. I was out of my element because I grew up on a farm and near a small town. The largest city in my state wasn't even half the size of this big City. It took me years to realize that I needed to stop hiding in the back row. I slowly worked my way back up to the front row. I don't always sit in the front row after all it is embarrassing if you are late to a meeting (due to other important work of course) :-). I am more confident and I realize that I have a skill not too many people do as well as I do. I know my limitations but I'm happy with who I am and I really don't care what others say or think.

  20. Allison

    2014-03-05 08:23:21 -0500

    Tower of Terror is the BEST ride! Love this post.

  21. PJ

    2014-03-06 21:31:33 -0500

    As always you are an inspiration!

  22. Adrieanna

    2014-03-07 12:14:12 -0500

    Thank you for this Ali....My OLW for this year is "Fear..less"...before I even knew what it was. This post really hit home.Thank you...again.

  23. fafuna

    2014-03-13 18:03:46 -0400

    Love, love, love this post!! I'm the same way - sometimes choosing to get out of line, and sometimes choosing the front row. To me you absolutely nailed it at "thriving is actively engaging in those choices". Thank you so much for these wise words and for this post. You teach me so much, Ali.

  24. Essential Reading – Campfire Chic

    2014-03-21 08:00:40 -0400

    […] Ali Edwards wrote about her One Little Word – The Path Towards Thriving: On Choosing the Front Row […]

  25. julie

    2014-05-07 09:57:50 -0400

    I just keep watching this photo again and again...I have to put it on my blog too to remind that the first row is always the funniest..
    I love your class Ali!I finished my may OLW yesterday and I had such fun doing it!
    Thank you for inspiring me!

Login or Register to comment.