Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Reflecting on ELEVATE

Tonight I sat down to write about the 5+ mile hike I took on Saturday. I looked over Birmingham. I broke a sweat. I got fractionally lost and repeated the same trail loop twice. It was good fun and I was looking forward to telling you about it and sharing some pictures. I had this entire line about “spring is sproing-ing” I gleefully anticipated using.

Instead what came out is this stream of consciousness. And, for better or for worse, I’m choosing to post it. I’ll likely never open this page again in fear of a vulnerability hangover. But I did write it.  So some part of me needed to share…

Historically I’ve had a hard time with the concept of enough-ness. For a large part of my life, “satisfactory” and “average” were dreaded adjectives. I wanted the plus after my A’s. I wanted to be the thinnest in every room. High praise only felt earned when it was heaped onto already high expectations.

The idea of living a life where I wasn’t special, famous, unique, and celebrated was terrifying to me. Because, what? I supposed to settle for an unrecognized existence?

Such a concept was unacceptable. So I worked tirelessly to try to set myself apart. As a Leo and a youngest child, it wasn’t difficult to captivate attention. And the more attention I got, the more it became essential to my self-acceptance.

Needless to say when I didn’t make the grade, the fall was hard.

(This was all self-inflicted, by the way. My parents were and remain incredible people whom I adore. They did, in my opinion, as good as any two people can hope do. They raised functional, socially conscious, generally responsible, happy and well-liked children. I may not be a parent myself but I can recognize good practice when I see it.)

Through childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood I struggled with a fear of scarcity in the form of eating disorders, perfectionism, overzealous Christianity, and a generalized anxiety disorder. I can still very acutely describe the panic attacks I endured nearly every night from ages 15 to 18 and the utter conviction I had that I’d die before leaving for college. Because I wasn’t good enough to have a future. And if I ended up being gifted one, it was because I’d somehow signed an invisible contract to make it really count.

And worse than the impossibly high expectations I held for myself, I held others to an equally high standard for which they themselves had never signed the contract. Steph can attribute to this, as can my ex husband. I didn’t know any better because, well, I didn’t know any different.

After plenty of self-reflection (and therapy) both during and after my marriage, I found that I needed to loosen the grip I had on those self-protective ways. To grant myself permission to live a small life. To not be The Absolute Best at things I set my mind to. To gain comfort in my tone deafness, my round tummy, and a normal-person job who makes changes a single stride at a time.

That’s what ELEVATE has become in recent years. Small steps upwards. Being fractionally only better only part of the time. Finding stability in  that dreaded enough-ness. And finding there is nothing to dread after all. And recognizing that you can make large strides in a small life. And there’s nothing wrong in not being outwardly noteworthy because those in your inner circle see it.

Just try to be better.
Try to empathize with others.
Try to be better than yesterday.
And grant grace when you’re not.

It’s in the trying where you ELEVATE.

PHEW. Well there’s that.


Let me distract you with some images from my hike…

This week we take a CHANCE

Lin’s VOW mantra: Success is never earned. It is only rented, and rent is due every single day.

Lin’s Song of the Week: Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show by Neil Diamond^

^Chosen exclusively because this is my JAM when I need to take things up a notch

Be sure to read up on Steph’s post on #VOWelevate

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