Different is Beautiful

Life is a lot different than last year, and every year prior that I can remember. I’m still a Christian, an athlete, a wife, sister and daughter. I haven’t moved houses or cities or changed coaches or picked up another job or hobby. Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed - now I like myself.

A few years ago, I survived a really stressful summer trying to qualify for the Olympics, and I made it! But after my Olympic trials, my coach suggested I work with a sport psychologist. He said “I’ve never seen you more nervous." Seems like a logical time to be pretty nervous… amiright? (But honestly I was a total disaster.)  

I needed to build my confidence and deal with the nerves. On the start line, I would try to convince myself I was ready, but I always had this feeling that the other women had something I lacked. Have you ever felt that way? It's awful. I didn’t want this mindset to hold me back anymore. So with my coach's suggestion always in the back of my mind, I finally started working with a sport psych in early 2014. 

My first assignment was to write down some positive things about my run/workout/training. "Some" meaning three. Minimum. Every day. At the beginning, I honestly couldn't do it. I did not consider anything I did worthy of a bulletpoint. Every activity was something I felt any elite athlete would do, and probably do better. I realized I would have to start giving myself credit for things like stretching and rolling, or even just hitting my target workout splits. The old me would have only considered a workout successful if I obliterated the assigned splits while feeling totally relaxed, which is rare. Like once-a-season rare. I started setting mini goals for myself just so I could achieve them and then have enough material to fill my daily quota of three things I did well. 

I am still doing this. I've actually gotten pretty good at being positive. I have trained my mind to be on the lookout for things I do successfully. The best thing about learning this habit is that it cannot be contained to my running career. I'm recognizing the things I do well in my normal life- as a wife, friend, sister, daughter, and Christian- and giving myself credit for those things. I'm starting to believe that I am truly a special, great person.

I never considered myself unhappy, or pessimistic. I don't know how I became so critical of myself but it must have happened slowly, and I was unaware. Maybe you can relate. Maybe I'm not the only one who could be kinder to herself. Now, my whole outlook on life has changed - I am so much happier and more hopeful for the future. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, one that I didn't know I was carrying.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
— Romans 12:2