Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life is Too Short to be Small

"Life is too short to be small." 
 --Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister and Novelist 1804-1881)

To me, this quote means that life is too short to be held back by naysayers, societal pressures, fear and anxiety, low self-esteem, abuse, and failure.  Life is too short to be okay with "can't".  Life is too short not to at least try.  Life is meant to be excellent.

Last year on June 1st I posted the following status update on Facebook:

'Tomorrow I will be 26 and my quarter life crisis is in full swing.  I'm choosing to let it motivate me to do great things and make bold moves rather than reflect on how much I haven't done up to this, expect to hear about exciting things, but if you don''s because I chickened out. :)'

What I really wanted to say was:  'I am a loser and I feel like if I don't figure out how to be more I am going to suffocate.'  I thought that a post with such wording would cause some to be concerned with my mental well-being so I chose better words to represent my restlessness and all around feelings of loser...ness.  Yes, loserness. It's now a word; you're welcome.

Tomorrow I will be 27 and am happy to report that I really love my life.  I've liked it off and on for several years which was a huge accomplishment after hating it for a long long while.  I have spent the last year traveling, helping people, writing, volunteering, donating and making tough decisions about what and who to keep in my life, and facing obstacles and challenges head on.

Despite loving my life, I will never be satisfied.  I consider this to be a good thing.  I will always strive to be thankful and content, but I never want to stop learning, striving, trying, accomplishing, shopping, discovering, and helping.  Last year, I looked at myself in the mirror and decided to do what I really want to do, be what I really want to be and to like myself in the process, flaws and all. I no longer want to do and be what other people want to do or be or what makes everyone else happy.  What makes me happy? 

Quite a few things make me happy, actually.  Over the course of this past year I have seen childhood dreams of mine play out, not because it just happened, but because I chose to seek those things out.  As a kid I dreamed of being a humanitarian in a third world country so I took an opportunity to travel to Honduras and ultimiately changed the course of my life.  As a kid I was a tomboy, who thought that it was impossible to fit in with the boys AND like pink, so I wore my brother's clothes, made fun of girly girls and secretly wanted to wear hot pink whle also playing G.I. Joes and Legos.  Now, it looks like my closet threw up pink and purple.  I am happy being tough, aggressive and independent but I am girly and feminine too and I won't apologize about being either extreme.  As a kid I wanted to be a pilot so recently I took up flying lessons. 

I could go into detail about all of the things I've done this year to really be me, to be happy and fulfilled but instead I am going to focus on one thing that is really making me happy....really happy....lately.

I became a fan of boxing in Rogers, AR when I was 5 years old.  I sat with my Grandpa L-F in his study and watched my first ever boxing match while my Grandpa explained the sport to me.  If you'd like a better visual of the scene, I was wearing a paper pilgrim outfit, that I made in Kindergarten, over my freakishly awesome 80's clothes.  Grandpa said to me, "Okay, now you pick a fighter and we'll see who's fighter wins.  You have to cheer him on though."  I choose the guy in the blue shorts so my Grandpa cheered for the guy in the red shorts.

I learned three things that day.  1) My Grandpa is cool.  I already knew that, of course, but it was confirmed. 2) Won, not  Winned, is the past tense of Win AND you cannot shout, "I won you!" when your fighter wins.  The proper thing to shout is "I beat you!"and 3)  I LOVE boxing.
From that day forward I would find myself day dreaming about being a boxer.  I would watch every  boxing themed movie that I could get my hands on, and still do.

But isn't it just a stupid childhood fantasy to want to box? Especially for a girl? Isn't that what we would all default to telling our little girls?  "Welll, sweetie, it would be very difficult for you to actually be a boxer.  You know, it hurts when you get hit.  You have to be dedicated.  It won't make you a lot of money...."  We should actually tell our little girls, when they show interest in something, "Try it!  You might LOVE it."

In September of 2010, a few months into my 26th year of life, I joined a boxing club. I had known about this  club for a couple of years but I let what people might think and the possibility that I might suck keep me from checking it out.  I took myself, my freshly-back-from-Honduras confidence, my quarter life crisis, and my best friend and signed up. 

In the beginning, I attended hour long group classes on a regular basis but recently, I decided to step it up and really fulfill my childhood longing and started personal training with an actual fighter, which is way more awesome than a group class.  It's pretty priceless.  I get to workout and do what I love.  Sometimes I suck, but sometimes I rock. Everytime I rock it, it makes each time I was terrible completely insignificant.

Am I going to become a pro or even amateur fighter?  I don't know, but does that make what I'm doing any less awesome?

Benjamin Disraeli's quote holds a lot of meaning for me in all areas of my life.  I don't want to be a "Can't-er" and I don't want to be small; I want to be excellent. 

I saw this quote in the signature line of one of my business contacts today and thought it was fitting for this post:

Excellence can be obtained if you: care more than others think is wise; risk more than others think is safe; dream more than others think is practical; expect more than others think is possible.

Tomorrow I will be 27 and I love where my life is going.