Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rise to the Top

I recently went away to a "wellness center" for the weekend. I know…it kinda has the same ring as calling into work for a "mental illness" day. Well, so be it. Because truth be told, I was very much wanting to improve my mental health while there if we're being honest with each other. Today, I'm reminded of one of the exercises I participated it. It was called Quantum Leap. 

Quantum Leap's instructions went a little something like this: climb a 35 foot telephone pole using the implanted staples as steps, raise yourself onto a 2x2 foot platform, and then take a step off into mid-air where you free fall until the harness catches you after about a body's length. 

I don't know what I thought of the exercise before I entered it. I mean, I knew I was there to learn something. It was an exercise that was meant to teach us about ourselves. 
We were meant to be in a tough position. 
We were supposed to feel uneasy. 
We were destined to experience extreme discomfort. 

And so there I was, with two other girls, ready to conquer and learn. Christy went first and effortlessly scaled the telephone pole, only slowing at the very top as she was coming up with a plan to hoist herself onto the small plot of a platform. For the first time, a hint of uncertainty showed through, but only momentarily. Pretty quickly, she found herself on the platform in a squat position. This proved to be the most frightening transition- going from the squat to the standing position. Her discomfort finally broke through the surface and it was obvious that she would much rather just keep it there, settling for the squat, by-passing the stand. That being said, there wasn't a chance she was settling for anything less than success. That's just her. She vocally pushed through her fears, through her discomfort, and found her way to her feet. 

Next up was a girl named Raquel. She was participating in this exercise to do something hard, to prove to herself that she had it in her to do hard things. She walked up to the same staples that Christy had just dominated. She mounted the first one and slowly pushed her other foot to find one. She was officially dangling, if only mere inches off the ground. And only two things were obvious-- she was already not comfortable and she wouldn't be moving at the pace of her predecessor. That being said, she found her own pace, and she kept pushing through to the next staple. She moved higher and higher up the pole, until she reached the top. Where she froze. As you're climbing the pole and ascending, there's a protection that's felt. It's not you, air, and height. The pole does some sort of disguising the reality of your position. But being asked to leave the pole, to embrace complete exposure- it's scary. Because then…it really is you, air, and height. That realization was notable in her words, her shaking nerves and unsure heart coming through with each sound that left her mouth. She slowly-- very slowly-- gathered her strength and got one, then two feet on the platform. And there she was, in squatting position…paralyzed. Fear had completely over-taken her body and she could not move even an inch. Any ounce of faith that she'd had while on the ground had completely evaporated- she couldn't do it, she could not transition to standing position. She was ready to succumb to effort alone. failure.

I sat watching from the ground and completely unexpectedly, I was emotional. This is not where I thought I would do my learning, where I'd have my moments of introspection. But I felt tormented watching her go through this process. I was entirely removed from her position- I wasn't experiencing her fear, her doubt, her perspective, her height. I knew if she made a wrong move, the harness would catch, that she had an encompassing safety net. I knew she could do it. I knew Raquel could do it, that she was mere inches in height and only seconds in time from completing what she set out to accomplish. If she would just stand up. I had complete faith.

And more than that...desperation, I was willing her to counter her own discouragement, as she repeated time and time again, "I can't do it." I couldn't swallow the idea of her not doing this. She couldn't give up. It was making me sick to my stomach the thought that she thought she couldn't and the fact that I knew she could.
We had all just witnessed the beautiful power of example as Christy traversed the unknown and the difficult. She had proved what we may have been unsure of at this point if it weren't for her....that is was possible!

But all that didn't matter.
The sinking truth that us believing, knowing, she could do, wasn't going to evoke movement.
Because she didn't think she could.

And that was breaking my heart. Because you can't just believe and want for someone else. And vise versa, someone can't just believe and want for you. While these are great supports and potential motivation, it will never be enough. Unless you believe in you, unless I believe in me…. it doesn't matter. It won't be enough. 

Watching Raquel broke my heart because I thought about all the times that I've been that close to the top….but haven't been willing to stand up, haven't thought I could stand up. Yet, the reality was, there I was …one simple push separating resignation from success. And all because….I didn't believe in myself. 

 Where are you more comfortable…cheerleading or doing? Do you believe in yourself as much as you believe in others?

For me this was a big wake up call of the discrepancy in my own belief system.

And hence a resolution I've been taking on…to step out from being a cheerleader- which I'm real good at it- and be a do-er. A get-crap-done kinda girl. A sit in the soak zone, jump in the cold ocean, dance when you want to kind of girl.

And Raquel proved her belief in self, hidden under a lot of doubt and fear, as she did...she stood up.
Looking down on the world, belonging on top of it, owning it like a freaking champion.  


I've been thinking about this experience as this week I've felt like the girl in the squat position, really feeling like I couldn't do it, like it was impossible to stand up. And I've been trying to remember the 
perspective I gained from being on the ground looking up. That I am mere inches away from conquering. One push away from succeeding. That everyone else knows I can do, they can see that I can do it. I just have to believe and do it.

I belong on top, standing straight up.
And so do each one of you.
On top of the world, dominating.
The world is ours,
if only...
 we believe in ourselves.

stalk AGNG:


  1. My first thought is to tell you - of course you can do anything Gay! I KNOW you are smart and strong and capable! But, that's not really your point - because I still probably look at myself and think that I'm probably not (insert quality) enough. Thanks for always giving me something to think about.

  2. Ahh, that was lovely! You have inspired me...

  3. Good post. I like that perspective


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