Look, it's no secret. Life is hard. One of the biggest gifts that running has given me is the ability to believe in myself despite the unknown (or the fact that I rarely know what I'm doing). Running taught me that even though something may feel impossible or incredibly out of reach (IE running 1 mile, then 3 miles, then 6 miles, then a half marathon, and subsequently every single step that happened between 13.1 and 26.2 to name a few...), it doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to set a goal and then fight to make it a reality. I went into my first half marathon and marathon thinking I wasn't going to be able to finish. Fighting what felt like an imminent failure intimidated me to no end. But despite the fact that I was terrified every step of the way, my impending failure also helped me realize that I had nothing to lose. It's soul crushing when you give something your all but still fall short. But running taught me that failing isn't an end, it's just a stepping stone. The only way you can fail truly is if you fail to try. Everything else is just a part of the journey.
I love the saying, "The end of one thing is the beginning of something else" because I don't believe in finality. I don't think anything really "ends". Even when something stops existing physically, it affects and influences us for years to come. I've learned a lot in the years since I started running and I wanted to share 11 pieces of advice I wish I could have given my younger self --
1. Remove The Shame.
Before I started Run, Selfie, Repeat, I was a very private and guarded person. A lot of it had to do with shame. Much of what I had gone through from my brother's passing to my weight loss put me on the defensive. My insecurities ran my life and I thought that if I could control what people knew about me, I'd ultimately feel better about myself. So I stayed tight lipped about what I was struggling with and not only was it exhausting, but I was overwhelmed and lonely.
Then I went viral and I found myself at a crossroads; do I let it blow over or do I step onto the platform, start a blog and open up. Blogging meant that I had to tear down the wall that I had spent decades building. But I started writing and immediately fell in love with the transparency blogging gave me. Having he opportunity to simply be myself, voice my fears and talk about what I've gone through helped me remove the shame I had been holding onto for so many years.
2. Not Everyone Is Going To Like You and That's OK.
The hardest pat about being open, authentic and vulnerable is having to deal with people who feel the need to attack your character and your work. I have read some truly terrible things about myself online from total and complete strangers and it can be a difficult pill to swallow. But not everyone is going to like you and that's OK!
There are two types of people in this world, people who give constructive criticism and people who give opinions. Want to know what we can do with an opinion? Nothing. An attack on your character is an opinion. But constructive criticism? That gives us something to think about; a way to evolve, learn and move forward. People who care about you will give you constructive criticism. Insecure assholes will give you their opinions. Try to forgive the assholes, they don't know how to love themselves.
3. Don't Be Intimidated By Failure.
I've made a lot of mistakes and most of them have been in front of an audience or in front of intimidating and influential people. Being authentic and owning your mistakes is the only way to fight the urge to dig yourself a grave when they happen. No one is perfect and not only do most people not know what they're doing, but no one expects you to! It's your job to try to figure it out. Have a YES attitude. Don't be intimidated by the unknown. Life doesn't have a playbook. There is no such thing as right or wrong choices, only better and worse choices. If you happen to make a worse choice, you'll live! You are going to fail in HUGE GARGANTUAN ways. Don't let your failures define you or intimidate you, just learn from them.
4. Be Authentic.
It's hard to trust your instincts or your gut when you're marching to the beat of your own drum. When I was getting started, I was advised to do what the bloggers at the top of their game were doing. To fall in line and copy them because it "was how it's done". So against my better judgement, I tried being like other people and quickly realized that that didn't work for me. Why? Because I wasn't being me! No one wants a copy cat, they want you! It takes a lot of courage to be authentic because you're taking risks and often falling flat on your face. Don't take the easy road by doing what everyone else is doing. Your risks will pay off.
5. Be yourself.
Own your flaws because your flaws make you human, interesting, relate-able and believable. Stay true to who you are and be open to change. Be brave enough to be boring every once in a while. Fight the urge to show off. Talk about your failures. Talk about your success. Be open, honest and transparent. Grow and change but never, ever, ever stray from your authentic voice.
6. You Are Worthy Of Honest Love.
Do not wait for love to smack you in the face. Love is not going to fall into your lap. You have to work for it. Your heart is a muscle and it will only get stronger if you work on it. There's nothing scarier than telling someone you love them but don't let doubt stop you from falling in love. Sometimes people aren't ready for your love and that's OK. Love is a gift and you shouldn't give it only if you think your gift will be reciprocated. Be patient. Be kind. Be brave. Don't change who you are or what you believe in for someone else because you are perfect just the way you are. And be ready to get your heart broken because that's what happens when you love fearlessly. Never forget that the price you pay for love is loss.
There are no excuses not to see the world. Money? Nope, not an excuse. Make a plan, work towards it, and make it happen. Don't wait to see the world. Make traveling a priority.
8. Ask For Help.
People want to help, you just have to ask for it. Don't let your pride get in the way. Don't try to do it on your own. Ask for people's advice, ask for their help and thank them for their time.
9. Look In The Mirror And Love What You See.
Every single morning when you wake up, make it a point to look in the mirror, smile, and then say something nice about yourself. Always work to put your best foot forward but never forget to love where you're at today. If you don't love and celebrate yourself, why should anyone else?
10. Be Kind.
You do not know what someone else is going through. Be kind and gracious to everyone around you. You don't know who is a breath away from drowning. Give people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible (even though there will be people that you want to smack right in the hope).
11. Have Fun.
Most importantly, surround yourself with people who will be weird and silly. Life's too short not to dance like no one is watching! The people who want to be something they're not, they're not worth your time. Just live in the moment and don't allow judgements stop you from having fun.
Look, you never know when your phone is going to ring and your world will subsequently fall apart. We don't live forever. Don't waste your time on this earth waiting for something to happen. Make your own opportunities, believe in yourself, and work really, really, really hard to put your best foot forward. Be brave, be honest, be relentless, be transparent and be grateful. Look up.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.