Last week, I spent some time thinking about the 16 year old athlete version of me from long ago. She seems to be the truest version of me before I was introduced to deep pain or experiencing wounds. I learned something from that girl. When it came to anything athletic, she used to say, “I don’t care how long it takes. I’m just going to do it.” She was determined when she put her mind to a task. She would try something until she got it. Persistence was her motto. Giving up or not showing up was unheard of to her.
Earlier this year, right after Christmas, I found myself at a beginning place again in regards to my running. A friend called me and asked me if I could be a stand in runner for her relay race team. I’d have to be prepared to run around 13-20 miles just in case they needed me. The first day I went out to train, I couldn’t make it one mile without having to walk. Not one. I went home and worked out the mileage calculations until race day, and realized I would have to increase my runs by a mile each week. That’s when my inner athlete chimed in, “I don’t care how long it takes. I’m just going to do it.” So that’s what I did. I set a mile goal each day and just kept repeating to myself, “I don’t care how long it takes to finish this run. I’m just going to do it.” And I would run. Sometimes I would walk, but always I would make it. I kept this mentality up for about 8 weeks and then began to work on my speed by trying to shave down my milage time. Then my inner athlete would say, “I don’t care how hard it feels. I’m just going to do it.” I showed up with determination and the attitude of trying. And trying takes practice and letting go of the fear of failure.
Being an athlete was always part of my identity when I was growing up. I lived for sports and being able to play street hockey, soccer or basketball with my brother after school. But somewhere along the way, my inner athlete got quiet. I think there’s a voice inside all of us that tells us not to quit. Whether we call it our inner athlete or our inner warrior, it makes no difference. As long as we realize there is a voice that is waiting for a chance to speak. Maybe we should listen…
The inner athlete or inner warrior says:
- I’m going to show up
- I’m going to practice trying
- I’m going to be brave and put myself out there, even if I fail
- I don’t care how long it takes, I’m just going to do it
- Pain is to be expected and I won’t back down
When I was a little girl, I used to believe things just magically happened. I used to believe people inherently were or were not good at something. I thought dinner magically appeared on the table each night, our family magically always had what we needed, my sports hero’s came into the world magically able to perform at a professional level. I didn’t know practice, hard work, grit and persistence were ever a part of the process.
In reality, I can still tend to think like that little girl.
I can buy into the lie that my friend magically decorates her house beautifully, my sister magically cooks like a gourmet chef, my mom magically creates a breathtaking garden, that author magically produced her book. But for most, becoming a decorator, cook, gardener, writer or developing any sort of craft all takes much more than magic. These crafts are not learned overnight. All are the product of the individual showing up, trying, failing, practicing, being brave and pushing through pain.
I desire to cultivate all of these crafts over my lifetime, becoming a decorator of our home, a cook for our family, a gardener of what we’ve been given and a writer of words. The perfectionist in me doesn’t want me to fail in my attempts at learning these crafts, so the temptation is to just opt out… to not show up or to pass up opportunities to learn. Truly, ask my husband! Anytime flowers come into our home, he’s the one arranging them. Over and over again, I’ve opted out of the opportunity to learn for fear of failure. If I don’t try, I can’t feel the pain of failing perfection.
So here I am. Telling you that I’m committed to practicing giving fear of failure the Heisman. I’m trying to be aware of my tendency to opt out or not show up and I’m channeling my inner athlete, my inner warrior. I’m opening my arms wide to the opportunity to find my voice… as a decorator, a cook, a gardener and a writer.
I can show up and I will be brave to do the things that feel hard or scary.
How can you channel your inner athlete or your inner warrior?