I have been wrestling with two things over the past couple of weeks: purpose and self-worth. Last week I was asking myself the question, “Am I done?” in several areas of my life. The resounding answer appeared to be yes. Which of course leaves me asking, “What now?”
I am not prepping for a bikini or figure competition and have no desire to in the forseeable future. I am content with my current body composition and don’t want to try to get any leaner. I am doing 5K races and CrossFit events for fun, but without the serious intention of being elite or even particularly competitive. I am realizing that although I enjoy a lot of things about CrossFit, it isn’t the only way that I want to train. I have my final session with my personal trainer who I have been working with for over a year on Friday. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the gym to lift weights on my own where I didn’t have him to tell me what to exercises to do, how many reps, how many sets, and how much weight to use. I am coming to terms with the fact that my spirituality has radically changed over the past couple of months, which means that some of my behaviors, attitudes, and even relationships are no longer compatible with or conducive to the life I feel called to live. Some of the things my heart is aching for are actually obstructing my personal growth and faith. I know I have to let those things go, but the difference between knowing and doing have been like night and day.
What this all amounts to is being at a crossroads. I have decisions to make about what I do moving forward. How do I decide what is important?
Being ambitious has always been one of my better qualities. However, I have recently come to realize that my ambition in life has really been centered around chasing self-worth. I look back on many of the things I have accomplished and worked for, and I am realizing that in reality I was doing these things because I thought they would increase my value as a human being. I worked hard in my career in order to be promoted quickly, to make more money, to make my parents proud, to be able to have all of the material things that symbolize status, to impress other people, to have a feeling of power and authority, and to feel that I was contributing something worthwhile to this world. I would set physique goals and compete because I wanted to feel beautiful and attractive, I wanted attention from the opposite sex, I wanted the validation of stepping on stage and winning a trophy, and I wanted to impress myself and others with my discipline. I thought if I made a lot of money and had an impressive sounding job title, I would feel more worthy. I thought that if I could step on stage as a bikini bombshell and be someone guys desired and girls were envious of, I would feel more worthy.
Interestingly enough, the pursuit of these things only made me feel empty. Defining myself in the context of my career only led to me live a one-dimensional life ruled by work. It left very little room for anything else in my life – hobbies, friends, joy, love, new experiences, fun. It sucked me dry. Likewise with competing, I actually felt worse about myself after stepping on stage. Not only did I not get a trophy, but the comparison to scores of other gorgeous women only made me feel more insecure and less confident.
Another source of insecurity for me has been the fact that I have not been in a serious relationship for about 6 years. I’m 28 years old and at this point in my life, I’m the weirdo for being single. The overwhelming majority of my friends are married (many with kids) or at least engaged and on the marriage track. And while I acknowledge that being single has allowed me numerous opportunities and life experiences that would not have been possible otherwise, it has also been intensely lonely and heartbreaking at times. Being single is a choice in that I refuse to settle and be with someone who I know is not right for me just for the sake of not being alone. And I am positive that I have not met the right person yet. But marriage IS something I want. And when I look around and it seems that I am the only one who has not reached that milestone in life, I can’t help but wonder why it has happened for everyone else, but not for me. I can’t avoid asking myself, “Is there something wrong with me?” And so, I find myself tempted to keep “placeholders” in my life to fill that boyfriend void or to keep people in my life who approximate a relationship in some ways, but only on a superficial level.
So, I am seeing a pattern in that the real purpose behind much of what I have done in the past has been an attempt to earn self-worth in disguise. Trying to be liked, to be admired, to be respected, to be loved, to be validated by others. I don’t want that to be the driving force behind the life I live anymore. I want to reclaim my unconditional self-worth, the kind of value that doesn’t fluctuate with circumstances, with trophies, with the number of “likes” on Facebook, with relationship status, with whether I RX the WOD, or with whether I have a visible six pack.
I am going to conclude this post with the writing of someone else. Lean Bodies Consulting posted this on their Facebook page a week ago.
A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $100 bill. In the room of 200 people, he asked, “Who would like this $100 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $100 to one of you but first, let me do this.”
He proceeded to crumple up the $100 dollar bill. He then asked, “Who still wants it…?” Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.
“My friends, we have all learned a very …valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $100.
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. — Coach Mark of Lean Bodies Consulting