Self-confidence Sunday #5

This past week, I have really struggled with feeling as though I am not “enough.” Not in terms of my relationship to anyone else, but rather not enough for myself, like I am sub-par according to my own expectations. I feel as though I am not accomplishing as much as I should be, that I am not as dedicated or tough or focused or disciplines as I used to be, and that perhaps I’m wasting my time, my potential. This meme was really helpful for me, and I am going to print it off and look at it every morning as I visualize the “best version of me.” I am determined to accomplish great things in 2016; I want to be proud of myself and who I am, and I never want another year filled with so much doubt and confusion.

When I picture the best version of me, my ideal self, I see a woman who is strong, confident, and capable. She is dedicated to her work, her health, her community, and her family. She is fulfilled through her work and believes she is making a difference, and she makes time to write and run and lift and volunteer and compete in…well, something physical (but she hasn’t quite worked that out for sure yet). She confronts her fear of failure. She is a good friend. She loves hard, and she has finally learned how to clean her damn room and keep it clean.

(That last part may be a bit of a stretch…but perhaps speaking it into existence will do the trick!)

Third Rate Romance #1: Cross-Country Third Wheel

In response to the Daily Post’s prompt Third Rate Romance

For a woman who is quite comfortable being single–and who is more likely than not to stay single for long periods of time–I sure seem to have more than my share of dating disaster stories! In fact, I may have to make a little series out of this prompt…

I came home to Texas for Christmas 2014 and unexpectedly met a man I really clicked with. Our first date, for example, we ended up sitting in his car afterward just talking until nearly 7 a.m. the next morning. He had an incredibly interesting and inspiring life story, and we instantly connected due to our passions for social justice, education, and sports.

Upon my return to Missouri for my final semester of graduate school, we continued talking and even were able to see each other: he traveled a lot for work, which allowed him to fly up and see me while he was out on business. For Valentine’s Day weekend, he was being sent to Chicago and asked me to come, offering to pay for my flight. It was a busy week for me with school and work, but I (of course) agreed and prepared for the trip. After work ended for the day, I went shopping for weather- and date-appropriate clothes…and came home after 10 p.m. to a very large, unfamiliar man sitting at the top of the stairs to my apartment, right in front of my door.

Startled, but determined not to show any fear, I walked up the stairs toward my door and informed him that I did not, in fact, have a cigarette he could have. As he eyed my shopping bags and leered down at me, he began asking me invasive questions–such as how long I had been there and whether or not I lived alone–and trying to look inside my apartment. I was able to get inside safely and lock the door, and immediately called the guy I had been seeing, very shaken up. He answered but did not seem too bothered by the occurrence, laughing the whole call with his friend (who had flown up to Chicago to see him) and quickly getting off the phone.

Although I was bothered by his reaction, I still went to Chicago to see him (though I did pay for my own flight; I thought it prudent not to seem like I was attracted to his money more than I was to his personality) and I was excited to visit the city for the first time and have my first Valentine’s Day in four years with someone. He had called me the evening before my flight to let me know his friend hadn’t left yet because he had found a cheaper flight later on and would be having breakfast with us, but that did not bother me too much (indeed, I was just excited to hear the word “breakfast!”). When he picked me up, he then let me know that his job informed him they would soon be transferring him to Chicago and he had had to schedule a time to see apartments before the prices skyrocketed. I agreed to that too, figuring we had several days and it was nice that he wanted my opinion on where he was going to stay.

As it would turn out, the entire first day was spent dealing with apartments (and I had pulled an all-nighter getting things done, so I was already exhausted and still had work to do). When we got back to the hotel, the two of them started making plans for the rest of the weekend…and that was when I realized that his friend, whom I had never met, was going to be spending the entire Valentine’s Day weekend with us. In the bed next to us. And he had not seen fit to tell me, ask if I still wanted to come, or even apologize. I then found out that his blase reaction to my dealing with the strange man in front of my door (who, it turned out, would end up terrorizing my neighbors and I for the next couple months, but that’s a story for another post) turned out to be because he and his friend were out at a strip club and my safety was simply not a priority right then.

Needless to say, I was quite angry, and the rest of the weekend did not improve. We talked, and because he seemed genuinely sorry, I decided to give him another shot. Things were okay for another week, and then he offered to fly me home for my birthday weekend…which miraculously turned out even worse than Valentine’s Day. That story, however, will be continued in my next post: Third Rate Romance #2.

Let Everything Go, See What Stays

He and I decided this weekend to back up a bit on the “relationship” aspect of us (seeing as we have different views on what constitutes dating versus a relationship anyhow, this is probably a good idea). It takes him longer than it does me to determine how he feels/what he wants, and that lack of consensus has been stressful for us both. Whereas I’m happy just to be with him and live more in the present, he thinks more in terms of the future when asked how he feels,  what he wants, or what makes him happy.

Our different cultural backgrounds have made this really difficult at times. The American concept of a relationship is closer to what he thinks of as simply “dating,” whereas dating to me does not necessarily even imply exclusivity (you can imagine that the conversation got a bit sticky last month when he referred to us as dating but not in a relationship). In contrast, his idea of a relationship is in many ways closer to–though not quite as serious as–what an engagement constitutes here. We’ve been dating for six months, which to me is quite a long time to just call it “dating,” whereas for him these conversations have never come so early in a relationship (or whatever you want to call it…). Quite a pickle.

We had several talks about it all this week, culminating in a long one after the concert we attended as my Christmas present to him. I think it’s a good thing for both of us that we’re stepping it back a few notches and focusing more on the friendship part of us, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt. In the beginning it seemed as though he didn’t have qualms about this, and he certainly was more ready to be dating than I was. Over time he won me over, and I felt safe falling for him. Now though…it feels like he let me fall by myself. I don’t feel like it’s really fair to blame him, and I’m not angry with him about it, but I wish we had both known earlier on that our views of relationships are so different. I wish I hadn’t let go so early, had daydreamed a little less, been less invested, less proud of who he is and less happy simply to spend time with him. I wish I hadn’t yet trusted that my heart would be safe.

I’m trying to bring my focus inward right now, to concentrate on things to accomplish and areas of my life upon which I can improve. I can run and lift and stretch and work and write and read and catch up with old friends and plenty more…if only I can keep my head above that deep blue water in the meantime. I want to simply let the hurt and anxiety go, let him go if he so chooses, and trust that things will be as they should be and that if he cares the way he says he’ll be back (which is somewhat odd to say, because I don’t think he thinks he’s going anywhere. It sure feels that way though.).

It’s just easier said than done, and I’m scared that he won’t be back and I’ll have to pick up the pieces by myself. Again. But I’m not scared of being single again; in fact, I quite like it and am accustomed to it. I am afraid, however, of the way my self-worth will suffer, coupled alongside what missing him will feel like; I don’t know if I’m strong enough to weather that storm right now without negative consequences in other areas of my life. I used to be so good at tuning out tragedy and distraction and heartbreak by working and practicing until I was too exhausted to think, but without a clear sense of direction I’m just not as driven and focused as I was back then. I guess now is as good a time as any to see what I’m made of.

Self-Confidence Sunday #4

As I’ve previously written, my fear of failure has caused me to avoid trying new or intimidating things at various points in my life; thus, this quote really struck a chord with me. Though I often was “the best” at many of the pursuits I did undertake, this quote gave me a new view on those triumphs. I often rose to the top through a mix of natural ability and dogged practice, but it frequently seemed as though winning did not take as much effort for me in comparison, and perhaps not nearly as much effort as it should have. In those instances when I played it safe and took the route most likely to lead to “success,” did I really succeed if I did not learn along my way to gathering trophies? What was really gained by avoiding the scary possibility of failure in favor of the safer guaranteed success? Indeed, I now wish that I had stepped outside my comfort zone more often.

As I continue along my quest of learning to fail–and fail gracefully–this quote gives me the confidence to view those learning experiences as valuable, worthwhile victories. Giving myself permission to fail, to learn from those failures, and to count the resultant learning as success simultaneously gives me permission not to be ashamed of those attempts. I am looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone more often in order to lead a fuller life than I previously would allow.

Where Do You Go When You’re Broken?

Sometimes, it feels as though most outlets for connecting, sharing, and exploring life (i.e. social media, etc.) only receive the bright side of our experiences. Though some people most certainly self-censor in order to maintain an illusion, others likely refrain in the interest of preserving pride or not damaging relationships with others. I don’t know exactly why I have a hard time talking about negative experiences in detail with people, but I also have a much harder time writing about them, even if I’m the only one who will ever read it. Perhaps it’s the idea that if bad experiences and weak moments aren’t down in writing, they aren’t “real.”

I think I don’t even know where to go anymore when I’m hurt. I could try to journal, I could talk to a friend or my mother (though this skill is a work in progress; I prefer not to talk when things get hard)…or I could revert to my usual coping method and keep myself busy with work and an excessive number of sprints and lifting sessions. Sometimes, it’s just easier being too exhausted to think. This blog could be a good outlet, but since it isn’t completely anonymous, I would be concerned with not writing anything that could eventually upset anyone close to me, were they ever to come upon this site…

Where do I go when I just feel broken? My hurt feelings are usually the last thing I want to talk about with anyone, especially if I’m consistently down or legitimately struggling. Today, I would like to curl up into a little ball and hide under the covers with my cat. But I won’t: I’ll go coach, I’ll knock more things off my to-do list, and I’ll hold on until everything gets a little better…but I really would prefer to just sleep until life feels more manageable.

Self-confidence Sunday #3

Although I am flexible naturally (particularly in my legs), positions such as this take some consistent work to get into comfortably–or as comfortably as as possible, anyway. 😉 I took this photo after coaching a couple Saturday tumbling classes last year, several months before my knee surgeries. I would like to get to this point again, as my oversplits are not this good currently. To do so, I commit to stretching every day (aside from what I get in during coaching) this week to start building that into my daily routine again.

Self-Confidence Sunday #2

Masterpiece Work in Progress

Although I am posting this on a Tuesday rather than Sunday, I am allowing myself to do so (without feeling “guilty” for missing my own deadline) due to the very nature of the quote I am posting. I feel that all too often, we expect perfection from ourselves–and sometimes, without logical reason. This was a wonderful reminder for me that my having areas for improvement does not negate my ability to simultaneously be a masterpiece. Indeed, I plan to enhance my competencies (and…well, those that aren’t competencies yet!) for the duration of my life; is that decision not, in and of itself, the very making of a masterpiece? This week, I plan to use this quote as a reminder to be kind to myself, perfect or not.