If you are anything like me, undermining yourself will be as reflexive as a sneeze. It may even become the broken record of your life. Feeling like you have the right to stand and hold your space is something that is far to easy to sabotage. I wish I could auto-pilot this issue (once and for all). I cannot.
Ok. I think a little historical (psychological) background is in order. Here it is. I grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, a suburb just outside of Minneapolis. I attended church In Wayzata, Minnesota, the town right next to Minnetonka, which is filled with private-school-kids, yacht clubs and wealthy captains of industry. Even though we went to church with them, we were definitely not a Wayzata-styled family. Consequently (because we attended church in their town), our congregation was also filled with super wealthy Laura-Ashley-dress-wearing folk. And among these wealthy churchgoers were a very rich and a very showy family. In fact, their showy-wealth-display morphed this particular family into actual small-town celebrities. (True story. The showy family even made a record.)
I could not compete.
One Sunday, as all of us church girls were hanging out in the bathroom, one of the wealth-showy daughters walked into the bathroom. Immediately I noticed her ski-goggle-tanned face. I listened as she regaled us with tales of her travels.
She exclaimed, “Oh these [insert head shake and slight laugh] tan lines, well, we just flew home from another epic ski vacation. We ski in Utah every single year!” She continued, “We are flying to Hawaii next! We go there every year too.”
Yes. I was in awe.
“Her life is impossible!” I thought.
Dave and I were in Moab, Utah, traveling with another couple years ago. Our friends are what I would describe as mountain-biker perfection. The dude is this hardcore, road-rash-cool mountain biker. The wife is tall, thin and an athletically tenacious. Really, they could be their own Outside Magazine cover models. I, on the other hand, am short. In our relationship, Dave was (is) the rock star mountain biker. I was heavier than I am now. I was also really good at letting self-doubt in my head (still am).
Dave and the dude also owned an online mountain bike business together. They were geared up and ready to hit the trails hard. I was scared. I worried about dying in the desert or falling off of my bike. I did not want to hold them back. It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway. I was slower, clumsier, and completely afraid. I was also the queen of you-deserve-this-space-more-than-me styled limitation.
Nevertheless, I geared up, hydrated, asked a lot of questions, then panicked, and decided that Dave and the dude should bike ahead.
“I don’t want to hold you back.” I said.
I am sure the was not happy to be stuck with me. I know this because she said and I quote,
“Beth, I normally work out with men. They can keep up with me.”
Feeling even more less-than, the wife and I headed out. I tried to keep up. Ok. Wait. I do not think I really tried. A few peddles in, I assumed I was already slowing her down. Then she said it — again.
“Beth, normally I only work out with men.”
At that, I stopped, apologized, and turned back.
Since that day, I also stopped bringing my mountain bike along (until recently). I bet if you asked the three of them now (Dave and the super couple), my guess is that they would have no idea how much I wanted to bike with them back then. It was not them. I let the self-doubt voices in, and gave up.
Learn from me. Ignore the crazy,insecure voices. Stop comparing yourself. Hold on, see what you have, and breathe.
As far as Moab and biking goes, I will not get that time back. It is gone! I was wrong. And really, so what if the super-wife was frustrated? Who cares if she only works out with dudes? It was not her bike to ride. It was mine, and like I said before, I gave it away.
Now to today. I love to travel. I try to write about travel. I read travel blogs and love to see what other people are up to. A few months ago I watched as a travel blogger’s Instagram feed filled with posts of mothers traveling with their children. As a mother who loves to travel with her children, the feed was inspiring. I love seeing what other traveling moms are up to.
No. Wait. Hold up! That is not what happened. Here is the real story.
A few months ago I watched as a travel blogger’s Instagram feed filled with impossibly perfect pictures of otherworldly mothers, and their well-toned abs, tank-top-worthy triceps, and bikini-filled bodies posed with their young and adorable children. Their children were perfectly matched, perfectly coordinated, perfectly photographed, and even their sad tears were perfectly perfect as they posed in mystical volcanic mud baths, on ocean-wave-splashed boulders, and riding small-Italian-villa worthy bicycles. I did not feel inspired. Instead I looked at my flabby arms and pinched my non-bikini worthy stomach as I tried to imagine myself in the same spaces.
“Nope! Their magic world is something I cannot be a part of.”
As a mom, and a mom who travels (all of the time), and as a mom who blogs about travel, my thoughts continued.
“I am not good enough. My body is not good enough. I do not deserve this space. I am not perfectly perfect.” (I know. I sound like a SNL skit.
And yes, since that moment, I have felt a little shaky on the whole travel writing thing. How dumb is that? People, I spend like 75% of my life traveling. I am, I realize, actually a person that other people envy, because of where I have been able to go and what I have been able to do. Why can’t I see that?
People who write and write about travel come in all shapes and sizes. The only person getting in my way is me. I wish I could see that. Sabotaging myself always seems much easier than succeeding. When I think I conquer one thing, I fill that space with more doubt.
Moments ago I was on the phone with the doctor’s office. Here is the conversation I had.
“You sound so much younger than you are,” the male receptionist said. I laughed and then cautioned, “perhaps next time you tell someone they sound young, leave out the, ‘for your age,’ part.” We both laughed. And I thought, “Wow, Beth, you are getting old.” Then I paused, and I cautioned (myself). “Beth, please do not let another limitation get into your head! You are not too old [insert dammit here, because that is what I said in my head]!”
I am a work in progress. There is a part of me who wishes I had the confidence to create my own celebrity, like the family I grew up with did. Or I wish back then I had had the wherewithal to bike with people who were ok with me biking slow. Now that I am old [wink, wink] I hope I don’t let my age weigh me down.
How about this? Stop waiting! Stop undermining! Stop excusing! You are not too fat, or too poor, or too old. You are possible!
In the words of Diane Sawyer,
“Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.”
MINNESOTA: I love Minneapolis! Here are just a few of my favorite places. Go to the City Lakes: Harriet, Calhoun, Isles or Nokomis. From Lake Harriet walk over to Lindon Hills and get yourself an ice cream cone at Sebastian Joe’s or a slice of bread from Great Harvest. Uptown is super cool and awesome for people watching. If you are near Lake Calhoun, Yum Kitchen and Bakery is a great and delicious choice.
Hey and if you are already in the Uptown area, please stop by the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. We have made a ritual of running around the sculpture garden every time I go home.
Minnehaha Creek was a few steps from my backyard. It flows into Minnehahah Falls. If you get a chance, check out the Minnehaha Falls Regional Park. They are amazing!
I also tend to gravitate to health food stores while traveling. I can always guarantee I will find something I can eat. My favorite Minnesota health food store is Lakewinds Food Co Op.
MOAB: Thai Food is currently my favorite thing to eat in Moab. There are two Thai restaurants I would recommend. Bangkok House is new and is my number one. I loved their curry dishes. Singha Thai Cuisine comes in second. They are more centrally located. Stick with their lunch special.
Moonflower Co Op is Moab’s health food store and is across the street from Singha Thai.