I only just realised how much I was letting fear keep me stuck.
I always thought I was someone who didn’t scare easily. I mean I like adrenaline sports, so that makes me brave. Right?
Clearly, not so much.
Being brave enough to skydive or bungee jump is completely different to being open and honest emotionally. I promise. Being emotionally vulnerable is much harder. It takes a strong and confident person to open themselves up and bare all. This is a lesson I’m learning.
A few months ago, I injured my knee. Nothing really major initially. But as time went by, it got worse and eventually got to the point that I could no longer exercise. I took a time out from the gym, so it could heal. I was totally bummed. I had been looking forward to getting back into weight training to not only help my fitness but to also help with my weight, which was increasing at a steady pace – more on that in a later post. So no gym for me. I considered starting a diet overhaul and tracking it online via a blog, but nothing came of that. I thought about keeping a diary of my recovery, but again, nothing came of that.
Luckily for me, it coincided with a busy time at work. My workload increased. My hours increased. My stress increased. More work. More hours. More stress. I was eating less. Sleeping even less than that. Still more work and stress. Even less food and sleep. Repeat.
Unsurprisingly, I had a health scare. Looking back, it was just the motivation I needed to stop thinking about doing things and actually start doing them. I’m a really good thinker you see. I could analyse something trivial and minuscule for hours on end and wonder where the time went. But this health scare really did scare me. It made me realise that I really did need to be investing more time, effort and energy into all aspects of my health. It especially made me realise that I needed to focus on my mental and emotional health. I’ve always tended to just focus on my physical health. However, I’ve realized that mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical health. Some might say even more so. One can’t be considered truly healthy if one’s mental and emotional health isn’t considered.
What became abundantly clear to me over the last few weeks is how powerful a grip stress and anxiety had over my mind. And over my body. Stress and anxiety has kept me up at night. Has given me years of insomnia. It’s even made me lose my appetite on occasion. However, this time, I was able to clearly see how stress and anxiety manifested into some fairly serious physical health concerns. Considering I am a stereotypical stress head, taking on way too much, and not exercising the skill of calm, it was all too much and my world came crashing down. Things needed changing because I was stressing myself into an early grave. And that’s not cool.
There are things in life that we can control and things that we cannot. In order to help me find inner health, I needed to clearly distinguish the things that I could control and let go of the things that I couldn’t. I was letting the stress and worry of work take over my time outside of work. This needed to stop. I needed to prioritise my work life balance.
That’s when I decided to properly start writing about my journey with health and fitness. My on-going journey with health and fitness that is. No more thinking without following through. I thought if I wrote things down I’d have some way to track my progress. I’d be able to see what was working and what wasn’t. I also thought if I made it public I’d have a method in which to keep myself accountable. Accountability was key. I’d had various stops and starts in the past, but I’d never fully committed to properly writing and actually publishing blogs online. Now was the time. I started reading about relaxing, meditation, calm and mindfulness. I started writing. I made a list of topics that I was interested in. There were over 40 items. I wrote a blog about what a rich inner life means. I went floating and wrote a blog. I started an Instagram account and posted mindful quotes that inspired me. I posted pictures that reminded me of better days. I started spending more time, effort and energy in what I was thinking was a better headspace.
Except for two people, I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. I was thinking that I was experimenting and wanting to find my way without an audience of people that “knew” me in real life. I found comfort in the knowledge that I could talk to and be honest with strangers, more so than in my real life.
Then, the first person from my “real” life found me on Instagram. I received a message that said, “Jo! It’s just me… I’m excited about this Insta account and your blog xxx You are such a strong role model x.”
At first, I was thrown. I actually gasped when I read the message. I didn’t read what my friend had written, I just saw the name and realised that someone from my real life had found me. In that moment, I felt fear. But then I actually read the words. They were so lovely. So motivating. It was validation that I was doing the right thing. It made me want to do more.
But then life got busier. At work, things got busier and busier. The amount of time that I had originally sought to invest in my mental and emotional health got smaller and smaller. I found that I was solely concentrating on work. On my weekends and time away from work, I was sleeping or thinking about sleeping. Actually, I was thinking about sleep or work. A few weeks went by like this. I felt drained. Then, the work busyness stopped, but my pattern was continuing. I was sleeping in my free time. Friends and family would ask me to do things, and I’d respond by saying that I wasn’t feeling well. Then, I’d sleep more. I was hiding myself from the world. From life. After a while, I got annoyed with myself. I realised this wasn’t right. I wasn’t resting my body or my mind. But I couldn’t really work out what was going on and why I was acting this way.
I usually think of myself as a pretty smart and strong person, but the last year has really thrown me off course. I’m not the same person I used to be. I know that time changes us. We learn and grow. We become stronger. Or at least we should. But this last year broke me. I’ve never felt so many challenges being hurled at me. I couldn’t right myself. Looking back, I started the year fallen and still haven’t quite picked myself up. All in all, 2016 was really challenging. I know I haven’t quite put the pieces back together yet, but that will come. Think kintsukuroi. The Japanese way of repairing pottery and understanding that it is all the more beautiful for having been broken. I see honesty and strength in that imperfection. To me, that is beautiful.
So after a few weeks of this self-imposed zombie life, I realised that I needed to get out. I realized that I was stuck and that I was to blame for blocking myself. I reached out to my friend who’d actually inspired me to actually start blogging in the first place. I asked if she could take me with her on one of her regular waterfall walks.
It was great to get out of the cave and breathe fresh air. I was a little worried about how I would handle the walk because of my recent ill health, but all was ok. The best part was that I was able to open up to my friend. I admitted that while I’d had the burst of energy and started my blog, after a few weeks I’d frozen and not done anyhing more. Something had made me stop. I was stuck, and I couldn’t work out why.
She simply asked me, “What are you so scared of?”
Scared? What was she talking about? Scared? I’m not scared. I’m a bungee jumper. I’ve jumped out of a plane and off a mountain. I’m brave and all that. I’m strong and conquer fears.
Or do I?
A hesitation crept over me. A slow realization.
I am scared.
Man, this last year has really thrown me.
I let that realisation wash over me. It was true. I was scared. But what was I so scared of?
I was so scared that instead of doing anything I just froze. I’d frozen the last few months away. Was I freezing my whole life away? I’m not getting any younger. Why am I wasting away like this?
What am I so scared of?
I am scared of judgement.
I am scared of being ridiculed.
I am scared of being honest and revealing my inner truths.
I am scared of doing that and being rejected.
I am scared of revealing myself publically, and not just to strangers.
I am scared of people that I am close with judging me.
I am scared of repercussions.
I. Am. Scared.
So my friend said to me, “Who cares?” She said that the people who really matter to me will not care. The people who truly care about me, love me, will be supportive of me no matter what.
Being true to myself can only make me stronger. Being vulnerable and admitting that isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of growth. Outside your comfort zone is the place where you can truly find yourself and grow. I’ve done that before in my life and I’d found strength and courage. Why was I limiting myself now? Why was I letting the possible thoughts and actions of others stop me from doing something that I know will be beneficial to my health? Why was I avoiding this? Why was I continuing doing the same thing that I had always been doing – comfortable avoidance – even though I knew that it was killing my soul and slowly but surely killing me? Why was I not taking a chance? Really, why not be completely honest?
I was scared and I finally realised it. I voiced it and in doing so I felt stronger. Much stronger.
I had a lovely walk on Sunday. I opened up about fear, learned some truths and came out with a renewed motivation to be truthful. I vowed to spend some time each day writing. I’ve done so every day this week. I still feel fear. I feel scared about this blog, but at the same time, I know this is something I need to do to help me grow. To help me heal.
So that’s where I am today. Let me tell you later about the dragonflies.