How many times have you been discouraged by someone else’s opinion? Probably more than you think.
As I’m getting ready to go off to college, I’m learning that a lot of people have a lot to say about my future. I’ve heard that UCs are too hard to get into right now, that community college isn’t “good enough for me”, that you can’t be healthy in college, that you “should” get away from your locale, that I shouldn’t go and “stick with the yoga thing”…
I’ve heard it all. And I’m sure everyone’s giving me advice with pure intentions- they want to keep my expectations realistic, or they want me to aim a little higher than I think I can achieve. But with an influx of opinions from other people, it makes it difficult to get in touch with what I really want. And so, following the advice of always-wise Jenni, I’ve made it my mission to deflect other people’s interpretations and instead listen to my heart. And of course, Jenni had a trick for that.
It’s a simple phrase: Maybe for you, but not for me.
Pretty simple, right? Here’s how it works:
Someone says something like, “Oh, it’s too hard to have a job in college. You won’t be able to manage it if you don’t have to.”
And all you have to do is smile and nod (so they feel validated in their contribution of unsolicited advice), and think to yourself, “Maybe for you, but not for me.”
In doing so, you refuse to accept their reality as your own. Because what you believe is what you’ll create. If you think you can’t do something, you probably won’t. If you believe something is impossible, it surely is. But if you accept ideas and possibilities into your reality, you’ve just opened up a world of possibility. That’s not to say that if you believe you’ll get into UC Berkeley, you necessarily will (although if the admissions board over there happens to be reading this, they could definitely help out with that manifestation), but it welcomes opportunity into your life. You suddenly have a reason to work harder, because it’s possible, so you might as well try.
Now that I’ve become aware of this trick, I’m finding countless opportunities to apply it.
“People don’t like it when a girl is too strong.”
Maybe for you, but not for me.
“Well, don’t get your hopes up. That doesn’t usually happen.”
Maybe for you, but not for me.
“You can’t do that race, you’re not a runner.”
Delete, delete, delete.
Wait, what was that last one?
You might have seen me post on Instagram the other day about the mud race I participated in the last weekend of June. I signed up for this 5 1/2 mile obstacle race simply because I wanted something fun to do that I’d never done before, and I wanted to put my abilities to the test. Chaturangas become a lot more bearable when you consider the strength you’re developing, and I wanted to prove just how strong I really am. What I didn’t really think about, though, was the fact that I haven’t run more than, like, two miles consecutively in years (thanks, Freshman PE). So two days before the race, I ran 3 miles around the Lafayette Reservoir, felt alright, and decided, “Eh, I’ll just wing it.”
“Just winging it” is something I’m known to do. I love public speaking, but have never written a speech. I love teaching yoga, but hardly know what sequences we’re doing that day until I step into the room. I work best unrehearsed, because I love the organic nature of speaking from your heart, and letting the words just flow as they feel best.
This, however, is probably not the best way to train for a race. And when I let my mom know on the ride over to the course that I’d gone on one training run that was about half the length of the actual race, she seemed pretty nervous for me. I’m sure she had visions of me walking across the finish line, half-exhausted, embarrassed for my lack of abilities. And don’t get me wrong, I had those thoughts, too. From the very first mile-run in third grade, I’ve loudly declared that “I hate running” (and faked many “allergy attacks” to get out of elementary PE). But I had a few things that kept me from accepting that as reality: I’m strong. I’m healthy. I’m motivated. And I’m also not too competitive- I just wanted to see how well I could do, and no matter what I did in my first race ever, I’d be setting a personal record.
So I totally didn’t expect to come in first.
I mean, for one thing, there were a lot of people there. And for another, I’m not a runner. I don’t even particularly like running, and I found myself thinking as I ran ahead in solidarity “Am I doing this right?” But it turns out I’m pretty dang good at climbing over walls, jumping in and out of sodden trenches, and carrying 135 pound women on my back for time. And when I crossed that finish line five minutes before the next runner up, I knew I couldn’t have done it if I’d accepted the reality that I’m “not a runner”. Because you know what? I ran. And I ran pretty dang well.