Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Promote Optimism

Ok, you caught me, I most definitely was not promoting optimism this weekend. I wasn't even faking it 'til I made it. It all started early Sunday morning, when I convinced myself I wasn't going to be strong enough to ride the hills with the friends I was going to be training with. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. And let's be real - it wasn't that I was afraid I wasn't strong or fast enough; I was afraid I wasn't enough. Plain and simple. 

I was afraid that my performance would re-define how my friends thought of me. 

Do you know what threatens your relationship with people most? Your outlook. How you attack life. Your optimism and personality. Not how many miles an hour you can maintain in the hills for 50 miles. Not if you are first or second or last. 

So I'm taking the day off today from training comparing myself to others. Sometimes the most hackneyed lines are the truest: 

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

I compared myself to my friends and was sorely disappointed when I didn't "measure up." Then I did it again that afternoon. Surrounded by wonderfully supportive, positive people, I let myself decided to let negativity, fear, self-doubt and comparison swirl me into a really ugly place. And since then I've been dwelling. Spending a lot of time and energy worried about how people will judge me now that they "know" this other side of me. But guess what - those thoughts are pretty ugly too. 

And they don't feel very good.

My life is awesome. I am surrounded by amazing people. I see the sun every day. I've found a field of study and work that I am fiercely passionate about. I've found a hobby that makes me feel happy and strong. And I need to remember it's my hobby; a wonderful hobby, but it does not define me. It is just one part of the dream. 

I do not plan on staying on this roller-coaster. 

One of my roommates gave me a wonderful compliment the other day,

"Whenever I hear you talk about things, you always talk about doing your best." 

It took me a while to digest that, and to realize what a compliment it is. At first I thought - "duh!" But I forget that sometimes this is a unique quality. It is one that brings me a lot of extremes: both incredible success and immense frustration. 

If I'm not satisfied with something in my life or myself, then it is time to do some serious goal setting. 

But do you know what the best, the very best, part is? 

Failure, or the perception of failure, is hard for me. I'm learning this lesson the hard way - that failure happens. And it's really not always a bad thing. Sometimes we need to fail, because we need to know where we need to grow. In speech pathology we talk about finding our client's zone of proximal development, then working just on the edge of it to help them achieve maximal success. Once you reach that edge, you get to set a loftier goal, because the zone has grown. I'm finding that zone within myself. With both my training and my academics, I need to make sure I set challenging, achievable, goals. 

And my dreams are pretty awesome 
- so why not spend some time investing in myself? 

My new mantra comes from advice I got at just the right time, but insisted on ignoring: 

{  Be patient and be kind  }

So that's where I'm at. Life is an ongoing series of lessons. Some are more painful and harder to learn than others. Some you have to learn and re-learn and then learn again. 

Come with me. Let's make a change. 

xoxo Sweat&Sparkle 


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