Not Allowing Past Failure Shape the Future
For the start of my "Real Talk" series, I am opening up about my past failures and sharing how I have not allowed it shape my future. I have been wanting to do this type of content for a while, and although I do sprinkle it in from time to time, I felt like it was time to get more regular with the vulnerable stuff. I am pretty open in general and love to go deep fast, so these topics have been on my heart and mind from the get-go.
I love fashion, interiors, beauty, etc., but don't only ever want to talk about the latest and greatest. It's cool and beneficial to get recommendations from a trusted source and all, but life is hard and I need realness and community when it comes to issues like body image, comparison, motherhood and when to have kids, career, feeling like a loser when everyone else looks like they are kicking ass, family life, or even funny stories that are horrifying that might be kinda inappropriate (hehehe). Do you feel me? I wanted to start Transparency Tuesday as a way to connect with you guys and for you to hopefully feel understood, and feel like we are apart of the same loving community. I have a passion for people, specifically women, to feel loved, welcomed, accepted, and embraced when so often there is so much competition and comparison. I hate that. I really desire to create acceptance here, even if just through my own experiences so you can feel like "hey! I thought I was the only one that felt that way!".
I'll jump right in on today's post because I don't want this to be an essay.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how I have let my past decisions and circumstances dictate my confidence in moving toward my goals. The way we view ourselves and the labels we create about WHO we are can be so damaging if we are judging ourselves harshly based on moments in the past. I know for me this is so true. I tend to not give myself credit on the many things I HAVE accomplished and set my mind towards, I think of the things that I fell short in. Why is that? It's similar to when we hear a bunch of compliments but only remember the one negative thing someone said. The negativity really has a way of camping out in our brain and hearts reminding us of how much we suck, how ugly, fat awkward, or talentless we are. Why is that? Why are we so comfortable allowing the lies to stick around and having amnesia about ALL OF THE AMAZING things we have to offer that make us capable and able to achieve our aspirations?
I'll give you the example in my life that I have continually circled back to no matter how damaging or untrue it may be.....Sooo I have this idea of myself that says I am a quitter and I just wasn't born to be the best at anything. That "it" will never happen for me, whatever goal I am pursuing, I will get close but things won't pan out. I am meant to be "okay" at things and mildly successful at the things I pursue, not because I am talented, but because I work hard. I have this fear of going all out towards things because I'm afraid that it will turn out how my college Water Polo career turned out. I worked my ass off but regardless of my efforts, I sucked. Or at least I was told I did. I joked about it too as a way of self- protection and laughed it off, always being the butt of every self-deprecating joke. ..But it hurt and I really tried. I only made fun of myself so I was the first to the punch, but I cried a lot in private and really felt like a loser.
I was a member of the UCLA women's Water Polo team which was #1 in the country. I was only on the team because I pursued the coach for months, selling myself and my ability to grow and be coached. I was a good player where I was from, but on a national stage, I simply was not good enough. My coach accepted me as the 5th person in the incoming freshman class on what I perceived to be a whim and hope that I would rise to the challenge.
College was amazing but being an athlete on a team made up of Olympians and the best players in the country was intimidating. Not only that but a few girls on the team were pretty mean no matter how hard you tried or how nice you were... they were just mean. For no apparent reason, I guess, other than their excuse of "hazing". I listened too closely to those voices that told me how much I sucked and worthless I was. I laughed and had a "good attitude" about it, but was broken down. I decided to keep pushing, and the following year only a couple of the mean girls were left. I lifted weights extra on the side, I swam during offseason to get faster and looked after the recruits to try and be as helpful on the leadership side of things as I could be. I wanted to fill my role of being the positive, entertaining, and uplifting one as best as I could, but still had hopes of getting good enough to gain the respect of my teammates and coach.
By my senior year, I was one of the fastest on the team and was the heaviest lifter. I thought, "now is my chance". I had gotten pretty good and was confident in who I was as a player and leader. Yet, It only took a few games and a couple mistakes once the season started to completely crush my confidence. My coach took me out after one particular game in MIichigan where I was starting and didn't put me back in for the rest of the tournament. I knew it was over. I didn't think I had anything left to keep fighting for, I felt like I fought for as long as I could and climbed my way to the top just to be benched and I felt as small and insignificant as I did walking on that deck for the first time my freshman preseason. I quit days later just two months before my senior season ended.
I look back on that time as I pursue new ventures, and when I start to get insecure the lies come roaring in: "you have never really been good at anything, just ask your teammates" "you quit when things get hard" "you aren't talented" "things don't work out for you" "you aren't one of the cool girls" ....I know these are lies but at one point I truly believed them. Even in my modeling career, I have struggled with feeling "good enough". I was the "commercial face" that could be a little "thicker". I always felt like my agents doubted me as well by the way they spoke to me.
"We will give it a shot and see! These clients like more normal looking girls"
"Let's see if the plus division could get you some work, you're kinda in between sizing."
"If you could lose 15 pounds I bet you would do a lot more catalog. Or you could gain 40 and kill it in the plus size market. "
I would hear these things and go "oh great, it's just me. I am not meant to really succeed at anything. I am just going to be 'good enough'." I kid you not, these lies stayed with me because I never looked at how far I have come, I focused on how and where I fell short. With my water polo career, I dont focus on the fact that I got 3 NCAA championships, I remembered the harsh words and quitting. Instead of telling myself its pretty damn cool I got signed to Wilhelmina models as my first agency, I would focus on the fact that I was called "thick" (I mean come on its hard not to remember that one!)
Can you relate? What parts of your story are you echoing to yourself? Are you forgetting the impressive, hard-earned parts?
Here's the thing. Life is full of ups and downs. It truly is how you handle the "downs" by tweaking things so that the next time you hit a rough patch, you are a little more prepared to make a better choice/ do something different/stick it out/ etc. I created this label for myself that said I was a quitter. Well, now I have a hard time quitting anything because I don't want that label to be true. What I really should have done from the get-go is give myself grace and dig deep to truly look at the person I knew myself to be. Here are a few things I practice when I start to hear that all too familiar voice creep in telling me I am not good enough.:
1. RECOGNIZE that icky feeling of criticism come on. For me, I get anxious all of a sudden. Once this happens, I am able to think "hmm this is not normal, whats going on with me? What just happened that made me feel this way?"
2. PINPOINT the root of what's triggering this feeling so you know how to combat the fear with truth. For me, sometimes it's when I see someone's new post with x brand and feel like I'm behind in my career. I get anxious and have to figure out what made me feel that way first and then ask myself why does it trigger me that way.
3. RECALL some highlights of your life (that could be anything from sports accolades to an amazing home life you have built with your family to degrees you worked hard to get) to remind yourself that you ARE CAPABLE, STRONG, RESOURCEFUL, SMART, AND WORTHY of success.
As I have been more intentional about taking my thoughts captive and getting to the root of them, I have noticed a much healthier mindset that is forward thinking. I can trust myself and I know now that I am not a quitter.
What do you know to be true about you? What do those that love you and know you best say about you? Allow those things to combat the lies that creep in about who you are. I hope this resonates with you and encourages you that you are not alone if you feel stuck at times, not sure of yourself. I have been there too! I'll see ya back here in a couple days.