Have you ever wanted to try or do something but felt alone or that you wouldn’t fit in?
I’m certain that almost every single one of us has felt this way at least once in our lives. I know I totally have and still do..
Over the past 2 weeks, Alice and I have talked about our journey’s in defining ourselves as athletes and discovering our inner self-love. This week, in the final segment of our series, we talk about community and how the stories we tell ourselves are just as important when putting ourselves out there. Sometimes, without even knowing it, there is a community of people waiting to inspire and cheer for you as you chase your goals, but first, you have to believe in yourself enough to take that first step.
CRG: How do you find yourself relating to athletes in the community?
One of the things I love most about being active in a variety of capacities is the community and connections I’ve made along the way. You’re never far from the kind words or inspiring advice. These are the people I connect with when I’ve put in a 20km long run and either wanted to die or celebrate. They’re the people who understand not being able to sit on the toilet after a 30km race, and they’re the people who undoubtedly understand that crossing that finish line is the ultimate high. Having these people in my life and being able to connect with them is one of my greatest blessings.
That said, I personally have a hard time relating to individuals who are focused on pushing their injured bodies past their limits only to injure themselves more. It’s the conversations where people talk about having to lose weight to compete, or that they’ve maintained a certain pace despite an injury. To me, this feels like competition. To me, this creates feelings of inadequacy. These statements only contribute to my initial thoughts on why so many people feel judged before even attempting to become active. It’s the thought that you need to fit a certain mould, or be naturally gifted at something to fit in when really, that’s not what this is about. At least not for me it isn’t.
I also feel it’s hard for athletes like this to come around to understanding my perspective. I dream of the day I can run a 7:00/km and finish a half marathon in 2:30, and I wish I could bring people around to the idea that it’s not just about the times. I wish they could understand what it feels like to run your heart out weighing 240 lbs. To understand that I feel all the same things they do as they crush their race in half the time, and how awful I initially feel hearing or seeing posts about how upset they are at their “dismal-enter-really-fast-time” half marathon finish. I get that it is not about me – and that these are their goals. At the end of the day, I totally know what it feels like to not achieve what you’ve set your heart on… I just wish that they could see and understand that many of us work just as hard to succeed at our own level.
Let’s end on a positive note – since I’m all about loving ourselves — what inspires you about your body?
CRG: I’m gonna bring you all in on a little secret that’s been bottling up. For about a year after moving to LA, I was an absolute jerkface to myself. My self-confidence took a major league beating beating when I started to experience health issues. And in a town like LA, my former fat kid’s badge that I use to wear proudly, including my battle scars, sort of got the better of me. Health issues, compounded by a concussion, and an inability to be active, brought me back into a cycle of negative thoughts and patterns I have not experienced in over a decade.
I’m starting with this because I let myself say pretty mean things to myself. And I started believing them. And I felt like a sham because I would never DREAM of saying that to anyone else in the world, nor would I ever stand for it and not say anything if someone I loved was on the recipient end of those words and thoughts. So around the lead up to the Boston Marathon, I did a lot of soul searching. I took the time to reflect, to push up and challenge my own resistance and create dissonance within these patterns that were re-emerging. It was uncomfortable and emotional as hell, but it was a self-battle I needed to confront. It allowed me to put a plan in place to take my health in my hands and move forward with a new perspective. So on the other side of this, I offer myself this:
I’m inspired by my legs for carrying me through life’s highs and lows…and 26.2 freakin’ miles when I will it to (and I do). I’m inspired by my strength when I’m lifting heavy things, grunting, and making ugly faces, because I feel prettiest when I sweat. I’m inspired by my body’s resilience when I’m not as kind to it in high training and by my body’s ability to recover when I give it everything it needs. I am grateful my body learns new skills and surprises itself all the time. I appreciate that my body tells me what fuel it needs to feel energized and strong. I appreciate finding my seat in stillness daily and observing my breath. And mostly, I am at a place where I can appreciate what I am capable at and can also honour and appreciate what my limitations are.
Looking back on our mutual chat, it’s interesting to see the common theme of both of us feeling like we don’t fit the societal norm of an athlete based primarily on appearance (makes me wonder how many other amazing humans feel the same way). While our bodies are different from each other, and definitely unique in comparison to society’s stereotype, it doesn’t change the fact that we are both badass humans and have accomplished some incredibly athletic feats.
What’s even more interesting, is looking at how the media describes athletes in sport, whether it be at the professional level, or international level. Commentators focus more on the commitment, dedication, and perseverance required to be an athlete, rather than just focus on physical appearance. So really, it’s really up to us to be the voice we want to be in ourselves, and how we want to represent ourselves, and not get in our own way.
If anything, this has opened up a conversation to continue to look deeper, be less of an asshole to ourselves, and to love ourselves harder. To believe in ourselves and the reward that the hard work, determination, and commitment gifts us with.