The Glass of Water

Imagine a glass of water. 

You were born to hold this glass of water. You’re really good at it. 

It fits naturally in your hand, right at your waist, elbow bent at a 90 degree angle.

You’ve held the glass of water, without spilling, for 6 years. 

And then one day, someone comes and tells you to hold the glass of water behind your back.

And you think to yourself “sure, why not!” 

After all, you’ve held that glass of water for 6 years anyway. Of course you could hold it behind your back! 

So you do. And it works. 

It feels unnatural.

It feels uncomfortable.

But it works. 

And you don’t spill the water. 

But your arm is sore.

And it doesn’t feel right. 

And it feels out of place.

But you can do it.

And you look around and it seems so natural to everyone else.

They don’t have any trouble holding the glass of water behind their back because that’s all they’ve ever known. 

And you think to yourself, “Why doesn’t it come naturally to me? How do they make it look so easy? Why am I struggling with this?”

And then every now and then, you get to hold the glass of water back out in front of you. And it feels so good, and so right, and so natural and you think to yourself, this isn’t so bad, maybe I’m not the worst glass holder in the world.

And then you have to hold it behind your back again. And it’s hard. And your arm is sore. And you get better at it and you can do it but it’s still so unnatural.

It’s okay to admit that it’s hard.

It’s okay to admit it doesn’t come easy to you.

It’s okay to admit you’re wired differently. 

It’s okay to admit you’re forcing it. 

It’s okay to admit you aren’t very good at it. 

It’s okay to say you’re good at certain things and not others. 

It’s okay to say “I’m not good at this.”

Growth is uncomfortable.

Growth feels unnatural. 

Growth is awkward.

Growth means making mistakes.

Growth means changing your thoughts patterns. 

What are you forcing? Where do you need to admit you’re struggling? Where do you need to give yourself permission to admit that it’s hard for you? Where are you growing?

I’ll go first: I’m not the best ICU nurse. I can do it, my patients are well cared for, but it doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m not wired like that. I’m an ER nurse through and through and proud of it. 

Being an ER nurse is holding my glass in front.

Being an ICU nurse is holding my glass behind my back. 

Up until recently I carried a lot of guilt around that. But once you give yourself permission to say out loud, “I’m not good at this but I am good at that,” the pressure valve releases. 

So here I am, giving you permission to admit the same. Keep holding your glass however you need to but know it’s okay to have strengths and weaknesses and to acknowledge them. 

I’m also encouraging you to give grace to those holding the glass behind their back. Appreciate their bravery.

Give them patience.

Show them love.

Know they are doing the best they can in unfamiliar circumstances. 

Encourage the discouraged.

Remind them of their strengths. 

Uplift the downtrodden &

Clean up their spills without pointing it out. 

Remember everyone is just trying to hold onto their glass of water. 



  1. Bonnie+Lippincott
    June 4, 2021 / 5:20 pm

    Wow, what a great visual! That is so true, and forgiving yourself makes all the difference. Thank you. ??

  2. Glapha Cox
    June 5, 2021 / 12:17 am

    I like that analogy. Thank you. I used to think if it is easy for me, it is easy for everyone. It took me a long time to realize that wasn’t true.

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