Hitting Your Lines and Missing Them

The Tohickon Creek release was this past weekend, and it is my favorite creek.  It is challenging without being terrifying (most of the time), easily accessible, and a solid class three creek.  Yesterday I hit most of my lines that I wanted to, and when I didn’t I was able to avoid the obstacles I didn’t see coming.  I even hit my line perfectly at the notorious Second Ledge, which is in my opinion is one of the hardest rapids on the whole river because it’s pretty manky and technically challenging.  It is such an amazing feeling when you hit a challenging line just right.  This is true in life as well as paddling.  You feel like you can conquer anything.

Photograph taken by Brent Burke. Hitting my line at 2nd Ledge on the Tohickon Creek in spring of 2014.

The Lead-In

The rapid after Second Ledge is called Race Course, which is tied for first and second place in my opinion with Second Ledge in terms of technically challenging.  It is also significantly longer than Second Ledge.  I was doing really well, hitting the lines, and cutting when I needed to to make the necessary moves.  This was until there was an unexpected obstacle in my normal line.  A kayaker who had come out of their boat, which is called swimming.  It is not usually a favorable situation to be in, and I have swam Race Course.  It is not a fun swim.  So I dodged the kayaker, and thought I was good to go.  However, I did not see the rather large hole in front of me when I turned.  Luckily I was going mostly straight, but did not have enough momentum to push through.  And in I went.  I learned two things, my drysuit is not dry and I deserve to work on my brace this boating season.

lower yough oh shit moment

Lower Yough oh crap moment (I did not swim there, but thought it illustrated the moment)

The Lesson

Life is going throw obstacles at you, and some of them pop up like Whac-a-Mole.  Unexpected and random.  Three things to do in that moment:  identify the problem, set-up a solution, and execute.  Sometimes those three things need to happen very quickly, like in a rapid or while driving.  Other times, you can take a little time setting those things up.  You will either come out victorious or you will come out wet (meaning you failed).  Crucial part of this:  both of those outcomes are perfectly fine.  Feeling on top of the world is the best high ever, and instead of living in that moment build on the momentum.  Don’t stop for anything.  Failure only becomes a mistake when you fail to learn from it.  Meaning if I don’t work on my brace when the weather gets warmer, because I will be getting wet from practicing that, than when I flip next time due to no brace, than that becomes a mistake.  Choose your poison and evict the word mistake from your vocabulary.

Belief and Success

The image below hit me as I was reading it.

Definition of Success

Definition of Success

My definition of success is loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking actions to get yourself to your passion and purpose.  I never thought I would find such a raw source of beauty, happiness, and purpose inside myself.  I have often relied on others for acceptance, guidance, and love.  This was in absence of any or all of those in myself.  I persevered, I learned, I dealt, and I hid from everyone my true self.  One of my close friends once said to me, “I’ve known you for years, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of who you are.”  I took it as a compliment.

There is a relentless doubt to let yourself be known when you have hidden your true self for so long.  It is safe to be hidden.  There is no threat of bullying, no torment, no expectation of others (in regard to yourself), and no disappointment by your peers because you smile, do your work, and move on.  All of the preceding have to do with your expectations of others being there for you.  The true glimpses they get from you, if any, are fleeting.  And you survive.

Survive.

I was not happy.  I was insulated.  I was in a hamster wheel, of my own creation, and I was doing what I spent the last 3 years doing.  I thought I would spend the rest of my life doing it.

I unexpectedly found someone that believed in me, and more importantly, I LET them, gradually.  At the beginning, I had my usual coyness, and sarcastic deflection.  To their credit, they persisted, and to mine so did I, with questions.  It wasn’t a sudden reveal; it was a gradual awakening.  I slowly loosened my clutch on my heart and soul, and let myself out in tiny glimpses.  I grew to believe I was worth it, I could talk to people, I could help people and actually be noticed for doing so without it being narcissistic.

Then I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, those closest to me should know the “real” me.  I wasn’t coy, I didn’t sarcastically deflect, and I listened to why they believed in me.  The reinforced concrete in front on my heart and soul started to erode away, and constant personal growth that allowed it to flourish into a garden.  I started to change, and be vulnerable to let people in, little by little.

I wasn’t crippled by the vulnerability, which has always been my inherent fear.  I was free.  Free of the chains I had put on myself to be perfect and to uphold a standard that was not only unrealistic, but also quite damaging.  The barrier was gone, and let my friends and family in, even if it’s just a little at a time.

Fear and Success

There are so many intangibles for fear as an adult.  As a kid the intangibles are clear and straight forward for the most part, the dark, monsters, etc.  The one least discussed for adults is the fear of success.  It may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s more prevalent than you may think.

There is a certain sense of responsibility when it comes to success.  Whether it be for other people (management), financially (raise), or even just to yourself, and it can be daunting.  This is especially true if you have low confidence, morale, and general low self-worth.  If people didn’t expect you to achieve highly, and you’ve been told that (hopefully inadvertently) you couldn’t do certain things for whatever reason.  It is a monumental task to mentally overcome that mindset.  To defeat it, you have to force yourself to personally grow, and to grow into BELIEVING you are WORTHY of love and success.  It’s a daily, demanding battle to change that story you have told yourself your entire life.   And it is worth all of the effort to achieve believing in your own self-worth.

anything you want copy 2

It is here that you will feel worthy of success.  It starts and ends with you.  You have to change, you have to want it, and you have to be viligant.  And you will feel free.  There will still be those days where you want to retreat into your “old” story.  Don’t let yourself…fight for your new found freedom.