I like to win.
I always have. Is there anything better than the feeling of sweet victory, knowing your efforts, practice and planning worked together in your favor? The slow clap builds in the background and the crowd chants your name as they rise to their feet in approval. You turn to the crowd with your best parade wave into a fist pump move as you wipe the sweat off your brow.
…at least that’s how the daydream used to play out.
Winning used to look very different for me. I’m a recovering perfectionist, admittedly, and I thought I was using this label to my advantage. If I can outthink the problem and develop an impenetrable solution I cannot be stopped (**Flips superhero cape over her shoulder as she looks to the sky and raises her fist in the air**)! I had convinced myself there was a bullet proof answer. However the meticulous planning, overthinking and ever present striving to do the ‘right thing’ was holding me captive. My desire for spontaneity and adventure had been forgotten. I was restricted from using my gift of creative problem solving. I was choked out by my own unrealistic expectations.
I was drowning in a false world I had created for myself. The standards were too high, the pressure too great and the demands were too consuming. How desperately I longed for rest. Life circumstances churned the current of my control and I was left in the middle of uncharted waters with arms flailing, gasping for air. What I thought were life vests of predictability and safety were actually weights pulling me under. I had no choice but to release the heaviness of perfectionism and learn a new way to charter the waters I found myself in.
As my failing arms slowed and my breath steadied, I found my eyes searching the horizon that was now so unrecognizable. ‘How did I get here and what’s happens next?’ I asked myself over and over again. However, as scary as it was to be in a place I’d never anticipated my life taking me, I started to feel something new. I felt freedom to explore my new surroundings. Excitement of undiscovered adventures. Space to try new things and learn about the new person I was becoming. There was thrill in not knowing what comes next. There was peace in the surrender of expectations.
As I moved my gaze from chapters ahead to the present moment, I felt like a clumsy toddler learning to walk. My footing felt awkward and shaky. But each new experience built upon each other as I gained confidence to stand back up and try again. That’s what winning feels like now, this side of letting go. Now, a win is measured by how many times I try new things, what I learned about myself in the process and how lovingly I can extend grace.
Have you found yourself in waters that are unrecognizable? Are you feeling drowned out by your own expectations? What would it feel like to let go and get out of your own way? What if you allowed yourself the freedom to see your clumsy steps as bravely learning forward?
Learning isn’t failing. Course correction isn’t failing. Changing your mind isn’t failing. Trying isn’t failing. Standing back up isn’t failing. It is learning. Learning forward.
I want to measure my moments in the times I went for it, learned from the fall and stood back up. I want to see myself though eyes of a proud parent watching their child string first steps together, cheering and applauding each brave attempt. I want to learn forward every time.