You know those people who don’t get impressed by anything? Well that’s not me. Life can be hard and people are amazing. There are so many people who leave me breathless with their resilience, brilliance, bravery, dedication, creativity, strength, willpower, patience, capacity to love. Over time, particularly in the last couple of years my inner circle has become extremely small and tight and there is not a single person inside of it who doesn’t completely blow me away in some regard on a daily basis. I feel like that’s a good rule of thumb for who you want in your inner circle. You want your inner circle to make you smile from the inside out, to light up your soul in some way. You want your chosen people to be the type of people who make you drift away for a moment when you are interacting with them because you are marveling over how incredibly lucky you are to have them in your life.
Sometimes I will mention to a friend how I have replayed something they have said or done in my mind when the going gets tough and I need inspiration. Usually they have completely forgotten the incident they had a part in which was so inspiring to me (that’s good to remember, you never know who you are inspiring and how).
I am inspired by people I know and love also by people I don’t know. Today, I watched the NYC marathon and got teary eyed along with everyone else as the female winner pumped her fist in triumph when she realised she had won. The first American woman in 40 years to do so.
Ripped from the pages of my facebook feed:
Her “FUCK YES ✊?!!!!” as she sprinted at the line…gave me a total lump in my throat. So I pretty much always root for the African but it was so apparent that she was having that one in a million perfect dream come true when every oz of everything you have sacrificed and suffered comes through for you at just the right moment experience and that kind of magic…it’s just an absolute privilege to watch.
Clearly, I can never relate to the thrill of being an elite major marathon winner, but I can most certainly relate to what it feels like when all the work pays off and you are also blessed with a good running day. Running is so unpredictable and in the course of 26.2 miles alongside thousands of other people, anything can happen to derail your dreams but today, it all fell into place for Shalane Flanagan and that was magical and so inspiring. Just the shot in the arm I needed as I have been struggling with a fearful and pessimistic mindset in my own marathon training. I want to feel some of that joy again. It’s absolutely intoxicating. She was every little girl who had a dream’s hero today.
But if you were to ask me which person I think of the most often when I am really at rock bottom, when the tank is empty, when I can’t get out of bed, when I feel like the worst, most useless or ridiculous human being in the world and I really need to get over that and get on with it. The person who comes to mind is…..
Why? Because there is nobody I know more intimately. There is no one whose struggles I am more closely acquainted with. There is no struggle I can relate to better than my own. I know exactly what I have overcome, and how often I have triumphed in tiny and big ways. Sometimes it’s as small as getting out of bed, and forcing myself to do some household chores before I collapse back into bed to sleep off the grips of a PTSD episode, sometimes it is taking my tired self out into the freezing cold to complete a difficult run, other times it’ humbling myself on the mat as I get tossed around like a rag doll at jiu jitsu or being content to look completely inept at boxing, sometimes it’s as big as giving birth or completing a 1/2 marathon or naming and facing my biggest demons, standing up to my abusers, walking away from things which are breaking me. But every time something hard comes along, and I fear I will not be able to handle it, the most powerful and effective thing I know to do is remembering all the times I did.
Reminding myself that I have survived 100% of my worst most difficult days, and I will survive this too. Allowing myself permission to start over, to ask for forgiveness from others, to accept forgiveness from myself. Reminding myself that this too shall pass, like all the times it did before. Conjuring up memories of all the times I thought I was done for, when in fact I wasn’t.
Let me be very clear. I don’t believe I’m any better than anyone else. But I know that my victories are hard won and I know they are legit.
Which is why, as I get older and wiser, the days when I’m feeling ok or maybe even better than ok, I try to make hay while the sun shines. I try to do as much as I can. I try to stretch myself, move out of my comfort zone, face a fear, do something new, express my love and appreciation fearlessly. I try to deposit as much as I can into the Bank of Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This.
So that when those rainy impossible days do come, I can make those withdrawals from my archives of badassery, and I can remind myself of how awesome I am and how brave and tough and strong and fierce I can be when I need to be.
Here’s my advice. Surround yourself with your heroes, always be looking for new ones, but most importantly, be your own.