The hardest part about being (or attempting to be) honest with yourself is that it isn’t easy, in any case; it never is. The trouble of it is, is not that you have to confront yourself with the truth and reality of it all, but the discovery of it all for others.
Ever since I learned how to shoot a basketball or run a 5K, way back in grade school, I never felt comfortable being tied to one thing. To one sport. To one position. To one skill. To one label. It made me frustrated and anxious thinking of being known for one thing.
For better lack of proper phrasing–I worked my ass off to be good at everything I did. I remember crying to myself as my mother watched from the sidelines as I practiced how to shoot a proper free-throw in peewee basketball. I would get so frustrated, trying to use my dominant hand, not both hands when shooting because that made me feel like an amateur and a child and I despised those feelings. I would get so frustrated, so irritated with myself because I couldn’t fit in. Why couldn’t I just be normal and shoot the dang basketball like everyone else in my grade could? How hard could it really be?
When I barely made junior varsity in grade school, I put myself down because I didn’t have the raw talent to get to everyone else’s physical abilities to be good at it. Instead, I cried to myself and pushed through every free-throw because I was expected to compete with everyone else. I wanted to feel homogenized with my peers, not some free radical contaminating the productive atmosphere of my team.
Sadly, this theme continued to live on pretty much throughout my whole childhood and young adulthood.
When I became a distance runner in middle and high school, I finally felt like I was put to good use. Finally, I got it. I knew what it meant to be in it to win it and actually have some sort of ‘knack’ or ‘talent’ for what I was doing. I continued to work my ass off and I built up my mental strength so much, I felt untouchable, invincible. But I wasn’t. Not even close. I still greatly feared these ‘labels’ I was seeing all around me. I wanted so badly to be another high school, student-athlete that got a scholarship to college, that I worked my ass off–once again–to get one, and by George, I did.
I was homogenizing and floating through my crowd, my fellow scholarship-gifted peers. But I was still crying to myself, frustrated with what I still wasn’t good enough. I contemplated my dedication to the sport I loved with all my heart, yet couldn’t fully commit a hundred percent to it; it just wasn’t in it for me.
I am 21 years old now and have done a lot in my life to say the absolute least. I have traveled approximately over 20,000 miles across the U.S. with my family, moving from one state to the other. I have survived not one, but three car crashes (one involving a 1500+ pound moose and a snow blizzard). I’ve put my body through endless hours, weeks, months, years of training for every sport I’ve committed to. I have fought extremely low bouts of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and disordered eating habits. I have a beautiful and intelligent older sister who I call “my other half” or “the Yin to my Yang”, and it’s scarily true. My father knows me like the back of his hand and I am convinced I will look/act just like him the more I age. I admire his stoic kindness, heart and relate-ability to every human being he meets and believe he is the greatest man I’ll ever know. I have a strong-willed mother who was the first person to teach me resilience and persistence. She is stubborn, passionate and determined; three things I couldn’t live without. My family has been through plenty and I wouldn’t be the woman I am without their guidance to ‘show me the ropes’.
I am 21 years old and need still feel like I am crying to myself, trying to fit in. The hardest part about being honest with myself is the fear of what others may think of me first. But the most important people, my family, are the only opinions that should matter to me, or the predominant ones I should consider. I have feared shoving myself in one box for so long, in anything that I do, that I continued to forget: my family doesn’t push me in that box, so why should I keep doing that to myself? Because I strive for perfection? Well, yes, but being happy doesn’t have to be about perfection. Because I am not heterosexual, does that mean I should strive to perfectly hide my personal life to avoid confrontations? No. I am tired of crying to myself and forgetting that the most important aspects in my life are the greatest accomplishes I have effortlessly made.
I am flawed and charismatic. I need to keep my home clean to feel some semblance of satisfaction and happiness. I am not straight or straight-laced and am still learning that I need to be happy with that. I find an udder bliss in meditation, yoga and the perfect herbal tea. For so long, I have worried what others think of me, that I have suppressed my deepest intuitions and the molecules that made me up to be.
So the biggest and hardest part about being honest with myself? I have to re-learn what it means to love myself. My mental health is equally as important as my physical health and it shouldn’t be ‘swept under the rug’, just to make things easier for everyone. I am not alone and am resilient and I don’t need to ‘cry to myself’ to strive for perfection, to homogenize. I am me and I am who I am and that’s no shame. For anyone.
[p.s. Thank you for reading this. You mean the world to me for doing so. And shout-out to my fam for being everything an Iowan at heart could ask for. I love you.]