It’s no secret that I’m becoming a certified life coach. Amazing program! But here’s the thing about it, to coach others, you have to deal with your stuff. What I’m finding is the more I deal with it, the more I realize about myself. So it’s a combo of “Yay!” and “Oh, crap.”
Not dissimilar to anyone else, as I’ve moved through life, I’ve had experiences from which I create thoughts about the world and thoughts about myself. We get messages from the people who are close to us and from the world around us about what’s “expected.” But how each of us hears those messages is different, and unique, depending on our own circumstances. The message I “heard” which really means the message I interpreted, was “be strong.”
It seems like too easy of an answer, but I think a lot of that comes from having had my foot amputated when I was 4. I was blessed that my family and really my friends never treated me like I was any different than anyone else. Except that, I was. So, although not consciously, I set about proving that to be true. Because my “difference” was external, I tried to show through my physical self that I was not only normal, whatever that is, but that I could do whatever I wanted to do. And really, I have. I’ve had amazing adventures on my bike, last year I decided to start walking half marathons and then a full marathon, then I took up open water swimming… all of which was awesome.
But in my head, I never hit the bar. Each time I’d accomplish something, the bar would move. I’d set a higher goal, thinking that if I’d already, for example, ridden 100 miles, that riding 200 seemed like a better idea, because that would really prove something. To who though? To me? In theory I suppose.
Stick with me because here was the punch in the gut. It doesn’t seem like this should have taken me 49 years to figure out, but it did. What I’ve done, what I set out to do, that’s not who I am. When I project that version of myself, the tough, strong self, people don’t really get to know me, the me that’s on the inside. I get that the external stuff is part of who I am, and I’ve had some great experiences. But it is only part of me. It’s the bright and shiny that distracts me from really embracing who I am on the inside. To some degree, it’s the “on stage” version of me. Making myself feel like I’m “on stage” all the time is exhausting…and I do it to myself…no one else really expects it and they don’t get to know the real me, the backstage version.
So here’s the big brave part. I’m setting a new goal. It’s to just be. To not prove. To acknowledge to myself that I’m squishy. That parts of me may not seem normal, but they’re normal to me. I’m not always tough, and that’s ok. I don’t need to keep raising the bar. God knew I’d turn out like, He created me like this. If it’s ok for Him, it’s going to be ok for me too.
What would that look like for you? To just be? Try it, be brave. I believe you’ll find you’re pretty amazing.