I used to think belief was something I acquired with accolades.
Brick by brick, stacking an enduring foundation with each milestone achieved. Standing on the winning podium states - brick laid. Signing the NLI for a scholarship to swim in college - mortar spread. Only once the foundation was complete, would I then know that unshakeable self-belief.
I was reminded of this a few weekends ago when reading words so familiar, I felt them as if they were the voice of 13 year old Amanda.
"What happens if you never get anything out of this?
What happens if you pursue your passion forever, but success never comes?
How will you feel then, having wasted your entire life for nothing." ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
It was in the third week of March, the culmination of a year's worth of persistent, dedicated, tireless mornings and evenings of swimming. The Sunday night after a 3-day prelim-final championship meet; another meet of not hitting the times I knew I possessed. Another meet of not amounting to my potential. Seeing the number on the scoreboard, and it not being the goal I set and committedly executed for 20 hours a week since I was 6.
Once everyone went to bed, I snuck out of my covers to turn my light back on. Bottom lip quivering, attempting not to weep too loudly, and with fury and pain I wrote in desperation - "when will it pay off?"
"How could I practice devotedly, execute flawlessly, put in more effort than those around me that are faster, giving soheart, and this be the outcome in return?"
10 years later, I spoke those same words with my quivery lip and wavering self-belief after my first conference championships meet in college as the tears streamed. The words of my coach in our individual reflection meeting stuck with me:
"It might not pay off next year, it may not even in two years…but one day it will pay off, one day. You need to trust that."
I understand why we give up on themselves. I know what it feels like to hold the scars of trying, when the process feels too unbearable. Giving all of ourselves is the most vulnerable act we can make, attempting despite never witnessing the outcome you earned is a true test of our self-belief. It's also our greatest gift.
This is part one of a two-part series; check out part two here.
Written by RISE Mindpower Coach Amanda Presgraves, Team USA Triathlete, Off-road Endurance and Adventure Triathlete, Ultra-runner
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