In my last post I mentioned what a little bad ass I was when I was a kid. When I went back to that post to start this one I remembered something I said to myself a lot when I was setting my new goals and moving forward after the end of my rowing career. ‘Make the six year old you proud.’ Now I am not saying a 6 year old will give you great life advice but I am saying that when you are 6 years old you only know how to be your authentic self. So that could at least point you in the right direction.
When I up and moved to New Zealand a lot of people said that I was running away from my problems. While I can’t totally disagree, it was only a half truth. I was not running away from my problems, I was separating myself to sort out an identity that longer felt authentic. My goals to find an adventure and further my education would have made my 6 year old self proud and earned me a high five because she was a sassy, confident and independent wee lady that felt the world was hers to take. That was exactly who I wanted to be so I followed her advice.
So off to Aotearoa I went and as soon as I stepped onto the plane, I stepped out of myself and began experiencing new things. From living and working on a dairy farm to meeting, training, learning from and falling in love with a kick boxer from a small town. I was growing as a person each day. I started picking up new sports, training for a trail marathon, dabbling in a bit of Muay Thai and BJJ. My new athletic adventures challenged my lack of athleticism and helped heal my body and soul. I started, rocked and completed my Masters of International Business. Which besides giving me a constant stream of knowledge bombs for two years, also helped me identify my own potential. My successes in those three years laid a solid foundation for my future and set the tone for what I hope to be a fearless life of possibility and adventure.
A big piece of the NZ puzzle was that my three years in NZ were also filled with struggles. From the subtle things like sorting out how to be a loud mouthed American in small country that hates a tall poppy and loves a quiet cup of tea to the constant financial struggle of trying to find ways to pay $9 for a loaf of gluten free bread as a graduate student. Clearly unplanned, these were struggles I never would have faced had I stayed protected by my family and friends back home. However, it was these struggles that gave me no choice but to get over myself, creating space for possibility.
Finally, I could not write this entry without stressing that meeting my now husband, my then boyfriend and athlete, was a major turning point in finding my authentic self. And while I don’t think you need a man to save you, I do think sometimes you need someone to see you in a different light and challenge your perception of self. Dion has been my own personal Kiwi Yoda or Jiminy Cricket. From day one, he challenged me to be a bit less selfish, be a bit more humble, give a few less f*cks (as he would put it), have faith and to put positive mental attitude out into the world so that I could receive it in return. He pushed me to grow from a place of humor and love always offering honesty and support.
So my advice for anyone that is trying to find their way past an epic fail:
- Take a moment to find your direction.
- Once you’ve got that, set some goals to drive you away from the past and toward your future.
- Find a friend, a mentor or a mythical being, that will keep you honest, not let you feel sorry for yourself and push you to be the best you.
- And finally with all this in mind, look for the opportunities presented in the everyday and don’t be afraid of setbacks because they will remind you of skills or strengths you may have forgotten.