75/25 (Verbal Vomit Validation)
Have you ever had a point in your life where you felt discouraged either mentally or physically and needed a little extra support to push yourself further but you’re too stubborn, proud or embarrassed to seek it out?
We all have. Even the most confident a person has some sort of doubt unless they don’t have a soul. Perfection is flawed.
Me, I’ve experienced being discouraged, doubtful, hindered, hurt, scared, the gamut of insecurity and self-doubt.
I tried something new (winter hiking, landscape photography) because I wanted instant gratification and to avoid failure. I know I can hike. I love being outside. Distance is usually not a problem. I can deal with gradual increases in elevation. I’m a good photographer. I have a unique view of the forest and appreciate the beauty the White Mountain National Forest has to offer. I knew I could do it and I knew I’d be good at it.
I studied trails and purchased appropriate gear, I always have safety in mind and I’m never too big for my britches. But…in reality, without trying something, without research and the correct preparations for the task at hand, there is always risk of failure. The biggest part of failure for me is the consequence of always having to deal with it (failing) all by myself and the other part is worrying what other people think.
In my world, I try to tell my children not to care what anyone thinks, but that rule doesn’t apply to me. The idea of being a failure and not good enough in the eyes of another person is a life-long curse. Therapy, prescriptions for anxiety disorder and depression work to an extent. But when the mental abuse starts very young, it can be hard to get past over three decades of low self-esteem and half a lifetime of no support- that leads you to a permanent need for validation.
Of course I have a couple of common fears and failures like a normal person. Getting eaten by sharks, using the outhouse when it is pitch black outside, snakes in toilets, heights, house fires, car crashes and my children being hurt or lost, just to name a few.
Other fears and failures I have aren’t common for the average person. Not fitting into an airplane seat or the go-karts (either from being too chunky or my legs being so long, my knees get crushed) and sweating horrendously, any time of year, doing virtually anything, just to name a few. Sweaty Betty.
All of these fears and failures lead to me feeling out of place, feeling like the spectacle of an overweight, out of shape fat lady, whom doesn’t belong on outdoor adventure or even on a roller coaster.
At the same time, I know I’m just fine the way I am. I’m strong, beautiful, smart and funny. I have good contributions to offer, expertise in some areas, a lot to learn in others, but I’m proud of who I am.
I’m at 75% confidence. 75 is a good number. I’d love to be an 85-95. I am sure I can get there if I keep finding healthy ways to motivate myself.
But… these things take time. And… if you’re a part of that 25%, that crazy, insecure cycle of self-catastrophizing, you’ve got to love me or believe in me to understand-I’m trying and I’m worth the headache. That 25% can be hell in high heels or hiking boots. (But 100% a safety minded, CPR certified, first aid card-carrying resourceful bad-ass Wonder Woman, ready to jump in and help).
I am still human and slip sometimes in self-doubt and insecurity. But for the most part, I tell myself that all bodies are beautiful, capable and entitled to enjoy everything life has to offer, especially the outdoors.
I was recently reminded of my humanity when I attempted to climb Mount Kearsarge North after still being on antibiotics from an upper respiratory infection the week before, just starting my menses and being out of shape from two weeks of rest with only 3 days of good training.
It was a beautiful day. I was feeling physically well minus the period. I was confident I thought I was better prepared that day, for the intended trail and I felt invigorated to be outdoors in the White Mountains, one of my happy places.
I made it about 85% of the way up and I had to turn around.
That was the first time I completely failed at a task I was so confident in, so hopeful and excited to peak, I really thought I could do it. But with affirmation from my partner about risking my health and safety, I turned around and descended.
Each step I took downward was a kick in the face. I felt like such a failure. I could have cried. I wasn’t prepared (you’ll read about that in another post), I was not capable at that time to succeed and it hurt. I really needed a hug and reassurance, but I held it in.
Here I am, trying this new thing, getting myself outside, enjoying myself, doing something to contribute to a healthy lifestyle and I failed.
At the same time, in my heart- although it was broken, and in my head- although it was cycling thoughts of defeat and weakness, I knew I did the right thing and the mountain would always be there, to conquer another day.
Living such a dichotomy can completely suck. It’s exhausting. Feeling one way, but knowing it’s wrong or unnecessary is a constant battle. I’m too old to give up, but sometimes I wish I could just believe that voice in my head that says, “stop. You are amazing, you did nothing wrong, you are not a failure,”- It would be such a relief. Instead I am going around in circles in my head worrying and feeling bad about myself. If only there were a switch to turn off the negativity…
If only I wasn’t so stubborn and embarrassed to talk to someone that may care- without being worried they are going to think I’m unstable, overreacting, dramatic or completely nuts- I wouldn’t feel so alone, once again, using all the tools I have to try to make myself get through it, by myself.
At the same time, there are very few people out there that understand or want to understand and help me sort it out. I’ve had my fair share of “friends” that give verbal support, but then tell me I’m just looking for attention or think I’m selfish or worse, self-centered. Knowing those “friends” aren’t part of my circle, my tribe, I have learned to keep a lot of things inside, to myself. But the few people that I know are “my people,” are always there if I need them. It’s just a matter of opening my mouth and asking… no matter how hard it is.
So ask. Tell your “people” or “person” you need a little boost. Go out for a cup of coffee, a short hike, a drive to the beach and purge. You are worth it. You deserve that push if you need it. You deserve validation and support. It’s okay to need it. You don’t have to go at it alone. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that people do actually care and want me to succeed.
When it comes to myself, I just know through all the muck, in the thick of 75% of the good and 25% of the bad… 75% of the time I am worth it every time. That number is growing. I can do it and I will. Every day can be a battle or beautiful. I’m trying to choose beautiful.
I will see that mountain again. I just know it. I might phone a friend, but I will make it to the top.