Just Keep Swimming
I am a self-help book junkie. Surprising I don't have my stuff a little more together, right? Well, despite being a complete hot mess, I really do try to wake up each day and live by the motto "Better Than Yesterday". As I've said before, I do believe regret is very real, and I don't want to get to the end of my life and regret not putting enough of myself into becoming a better person and making an impression on this world.
But here's the catch: I go overboard. I have a lot of irons in the fire: single mom, full-time teacher, wearing a couple of different hats for the gym, lots of little projects, blah blah blah. I don't think I do any more than most other women, but I do think I'm a little more neurotic about the pressure I put on myself to be perfect at everything. Guess what? I'm fucking tired.
It's not just the regular "get more sleep" kind of tired. It's the "I feel like I got hit by a bus and I'm going to drop" kind of tired. It sounds crazy, but right now my life reminds me of my childhood swimming lessons. I loved the time we spent swimming laps each day; feeling myself cut through the cool water and eventually touch that wall made me feel strong and accomplished; however, I dreaded the part of each class where she made us tread water for one minute intervals. One little minute, but something about being stuck in one spot made me exhausted and nervous within 10 seconds. I could feel my chin sink below the water, and as it inched towards my nose, my heart would race. I panicked, certain that I couldn't make it through that 60 seconds, not sure what would be worse: drowning or being pulled gasping from the pool by my instructor. Being stuck in that one spot, unable to move forward, fighting to keep my head above water and breathing was terrifying.
I feel the same way about life right now, with each day bringing back that old familiar feeling of treading water. I feel frantic; doing just enough with each obligation to keep myself afloat, but never feeling the gratification of forward movement. I go to bed each night with a racing heart, refelcting upon how I didn't live up to my own expectations to be "Better Than Yesterday." Each time someone gives me a compliment regarding my role as teacher/mom/friend/coach/whatever, I feel like a total fraud. Thoughts like, "If only they knew how often I fall short" and "If they only knew how close I am to running away and hiding" run through my head on repeat. My entire life I've always felt the need to beat myself up mentally, as if doing so will cushion the blow if and when I fall.
I'm tired of being 34 years old and still feeling like I'm not enough. I'm tired of obsessing about not being thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, friendly enough, charitable enough...I could go on and on. Each of these thoughts feels like a weight attached to my body, added burdens to what's already a struggle. Just like the old days, I contemplate what would be worse: drowning or needing someone else to save me. And then I remember: I'm the only person who can save myself. I'm the hero of this story.
One of the most powerful books I've ever read is The Gifts of Imperfection, and I recommend it to everyone. My copy is battered and worn, and marked up with highlighter and notes that spoke to me in some way. One line that stopped me in my tracks: You can't give your kids what you don't have. Think about it...what do you want for your kids? Happiness? Confidence? Health? Contentment? Success? Faith? Security? How in the world can we instill those values in our little ones when we aren't practicing what we preach?
If I could give my kids only one thing, I would give them the strength to face the world knowing they are enough right now, a concept Brene Brown explores in the above book. Not "I'll be enough when I lose 10 pounds" or "I'll be enough when I make six figures." Enough now. As is. A child of the universe, capable of bringing love and joy to everyone they encounter. There's no way around it: if they see me scattered, stressed, and constantly fearful of what the next day might bring, how in the world can they live any other way? I can't tread water anymore. It's time to start moving forward, and I invite you to do the same thing. What are the things in your life that are holding you in place, forcing you to tread water, and threatening to pull you under? Cut them loose and swim on.