I am me.
All I want to be is the best me I can be.
The duo and the internal struggle.
A few days ago a mother-daughter duo came in to the running store for a shoe fitting.The young high school girl was slender, had beautiful long brown hair and an endearing, unassuming presence. Her physical nature commanded attention, yet her voice was so small, scared and unsure. Dismissing assistance in picking out a shoe she quietly approached the shoe wall. Motionless she stared at the vast wall while her eyes did all the work fluttering back and forth across the styles. After a few moments she picked up one styles, turned to her mother and said, “I think people will like this one.” Her mother visibly bit her lip, swallowed and then calmly voiced, “But which shoe do YOU like? I thought you liked the pink one over there (pointing to the Brooks Ghost)?” In a panicky huff the daughter rebuffed, “But what will the other girls think? Do you think they’d like that one? Everyone else [at school] wears these!!” With her Nike Free and her wavering identity in her tight grip she shook her head repeating, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I actually do like this one, mom. I promise, I really do. Can I get these ones? … Please?!?”
I remained decidedly silent during this scene for there were far greater forces at play: a young woman’s self-esteem and self-confidence, the pressure to conform and be accepted and a mild case of a mother-daughter power-struggle.
In so many ways this young girl behaved like a typical young adult in high school: eager to please and willing to contort herself to fit in. Healthy? Not entirely. Typical? Absolutely.
In far too many ways this young girl reminded me of a past version of myself. A scared young girl who spent much of her time worrying about what others would think, contemplating why someone said or did XYX and whether or not she was truly liked by her group of friends.
Yesterday’s encounter brought me face to face with my former self. I watched the young girl painstakingly struggle over finding a shoe. It seems so easy, so trivial and yet for her it wasn’t. For her it was so much more than ‘what shoe do YOU like?”; I remembered this internal struggle far too well and I felt for her. I recalled how exhausting it was to worry so much about what other people thought.
Flaws and All
In that moment I realized how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come from that person who worries so much. I sat there in the running store and I wondered to myself – exactly when did I stop caring about what other people thought? When did I stop measuring myself against someone else’s expectations and set my own goals? When did I finally accept that I not only have strengths but also untapped potential? When did I finally accept myself- flaws and all? When did I stop apologizing to other people and simply start trying to be the best me I can be?
Maybe it was when I fell in love. For the first time in my whole life I felt truly seen. My flaws any more, but just a part of what made me, me.
Or maybe it was when I was pregnant with Lillian. My body wasn’t my own any more and I had real purpose. I brought a life into this world and well that’s a pretty amazing feat. Plus, there is something to be said about having your life turned upside down to nurse, comfort and bathe your baby. Everything you once thought mattered just seems so silly now. Nothing on this Earth matters as much as your little one.
Or maybe it was when I crossed the line of the NYC marathon, my first marathon. I felt emotionally raw, full and empty all at the same time and unstoppable. No one could make assumptions on what I was capable of anyone. The unknown can be incredibly powerful.
Or maybe it was the day when I started identifying myself as a runner. I packed away my business suits, dresses and heels and replaced them with sneakers, sports bras and dri-fit shorts. Regardless of how I look after a sweaty 15 mile training run I feel beautiful, strong and accomplished. Every single time.
The most beautiful things on Earth: Strength, love, acceptance.
I’m not that young girl anymore, rather I’m a woman who is trying to promote love, self-acceptance and strength. Loving yourself flaws and all is easier said than done. It take practice and many leaps of faith. That is partially what this blog is for: a platform for my leaping to take place, or so to speak.
I’m not perfect. Please- far from it. I am very comfortable with my body, but I also know that I am extra white, have cookie-belly where abs could be, am painstakingly small chested and have pretty ginormous thighs (gee, thanks dad!). I know I am healthy and fit, yet at the same time I have a very hard time feeling confident about my body. This shouldn’t be. I eat balanced meals, lead a healthy live and run marathons!! This needs to change, pronto.
A few days ago I decided to complete a disgustingly muggy morning run in my sports bra (2nd time ever!) simply because I was desperate to feel cooler. I thought about putting a shirt on to cover my skin on the run, but I was just so incredibly hot. It was 5:45 am and already 75 degrees out (and 95 % humidity) and I realized that I just didn’t care what people thought. In so many ways I don’t care and in so many ways it is so relaxing. So I did it- I ran in my sports bra and I had a kick-ass tempo run!!
Afterwards I sat there with my phone wondering whether or not to post the goofy picture of myself on the lawn. I don’t have a perfect body like many other running and/or blogging moms out there. Like I said earlier- most of the time I don’t care what other people think, and yet I have my moments where I waver. I’m human. I sat there for a moment wondering if I should or shouldn’t post the picture. I had an amazing run that I wanted to share with others but a small part of me worried that ‘I’m not as tiny as so-and-so’… ‘Will people think its weird/inappropriate to post this?’ Then my eyes shifted to my dog Sydney in the background, rolling around so happy and free. I had to share this picture because this picture wasn’t about the stupid sports bra. It wasn’t about how I looked at all! It was how I felt: proud, forceful, happy and very much at peace with myself (like my companion puppy!).
I believe that happiness flourishes when one can feel at peace in his/her own body and in control of his/her future.
That is something I want to model and share with others.
My story isn’t done yet. I have goals to accomplish. I have challenges to tackle. I still have many lessons to learn.
Get ready guys, I’ve still got a lot of leaping to do!
Never Stop Running,