I Just PR'd a Little
Today (for the second time in my life) I did something I never-ever-ever thought I could do. Today I ran my second half marathon.
Today I want to talk empowerment.
The idea of empowerment can be scary. We hear all the time how we should empower women or empower those in poverty to better themselves.
But you know what? I don't think it's just women. Or adolescents. Or low-socioeconomic status folks. Or people with anxiety. I think it's everybody. I think we all struggle with believing we can be (and pursuing) the best we can be.
Find your Community
People need people. Recent studies have shown social connections can increase longevity, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve your immune system.
From hobbies to caloric consumption to religious and political opinions, we are incredibly influenced by those closest to us. This can be a great advantage or a great detriment - it all depends on who you choose to surround yourself with.
Greatness attracts greatness. If you want to be great, go find great people and treat them well.
Find people who believe in you when you don't. Who will stretch you and challenge you. Find friends who do more than just validate and agree with you - find people who will call you on the carpet and push you to become the person you were always meant to be.
Kick those Stereotype Threats to the Curb
Two and a half years ago I walked into my new job. As I was leaving for the day, my new coworker-slash-friend Paige asked me if I was a runner.
HA! Me?? A runner? I mean, I run - a few miles a week - but I'm definitely not a runner.
I used to run with friends when I lived in Kansas City - it's great exercise, you know? Free (no gym membership required), easy (I literally put on shoes and go out my front door), and a great way to spend time with friends (you have no idea how much money I've saved on counseling fees because of the hours of running therapy I've had).
Paige told me then she was going to talk me into running a half marathon with her. Up to that point, the farthest I had ever run was four miles - and that seemed like a lot.
I wasn't an athlete in high school. In fact, was that kid in middle school who literally took 15 minutes to "run" a mile in gym class. Pretty sure I could walk a mile and drink a cup of coffee in that time now.
Despite hiking mountains and climbing rock walls as an adult, I still carried the non-athlete stereotype of myself. It was only last year after running my first half marathon that I started to think of myself as a runner.
I can't believe how long I let that belief about myself slow my progress in becoming who I'm supposed to be. What is the stereotype threat you hold about yourself?
Stand up for Yourself
Guys, I'm a people-pleaser.
It's not really a healthy cycle. To be my best and to more effectively serve those around me, I have to set healthy boundaries.
That co-dependent relationship? It's not serving either of us; I have to take a break.
Saying, "Yes!" to every single project at work? It's not possible; I have to prioritize.
Sacrificing big needs over and over in an effort to love "unconditionally" isn't a healthy relationship; I have to get out.
Finding your voice and setting boundaries isn't selfish; it's healthy. It's necessary. If you want to care for others, you must care for yourself. If you want to love others well, you must love yourself also.
I'm not suggesting you get your way all the time, that you never sacrifice your time for a friend (I always take the phone call), or that you always put your needs above the needs of your family. I only hope to encourage seeking balance in healthy relationships, which requires you to have a voice.
Go Chase your Dreams, Damnit
And don't quit chasing them. Whether you're seven or seventy-five, figure out what it is you want, make a plan, then go after it with everything you have.
I know, I know - time, money, family obligations, house chores, and the monotonies of life are all good reasons not to pursue your dreams. But the truth is nobody is going to pursue them except for you. And you're not hurting anybody but yourself if you don't go after what you want.
It's scary. It's unknown. There is a huge risk of failure. And it's going to be really hard. You'll have to give up drinks with friends and forgo buying the latest iPhone (or at least put it off a few years). But you know, I rarely regret the things I've done; I much more often regret the things I never tried. At the end of the day, what would you rather regret?
Whether you're pursuing a business venture or the love of your life, you're not going to get very far if you give less than 100%.
So don't wait. Get your ass off the couch and start PR'ing.
With love, from Peas and Hoppiness.
Quote about Stereotype threat from: Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Steele, Claude M.; Aronson, Joshua. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 69(5), Nov 1995, 797-811.