There is a great exercise that acting classes do. In it you describe who you’re character is by stating….I AM! It’s designed to help you establish who you are as a character, so you gain dimension. This is my interpretation of said exercise. After hearing this done for a friend at his funeral, it has been rolling around in my brain. For months now I’ve thought a lot about this exercise and what I would say. I’ve thought about who I AM. One particular attribute of mine has been really percolating in there ever since I started this triathlon training. I have flaws, of course I do. I have MANY flaws, but this one particular flaw has been even more glaring to me. I’ve really realized this problem and it’s bothered me. Dixie gets angry with me when I say that I’m like this, and that I can’t say those things to myself because it’s not true and its self defeating. But, it IS true, and my point is…I’ve recognized, now I need to figure out how to fix it. I’ll talk more about it when I get to that part in my exercise below.
I am a daughter of God. I am daughter to Tony and Dian. I am a sister to Dana, Eric, Merlin, Jenny, Porter and Dixie. I am an Aunt to 22, a niece, and a cousin to too many to count. I am a wife to Jere. I am a Mother to Max and Maggie. I am LOVED. I am from Mesa, AZ. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a returned missionary from the Indiana, Indianapolis mission. I am BLESSED. I am intelligent. I am a disciplinarian. I am a word-Smyth (whole post about that someday). I am a friend to many. I am a good listener. I am a teacher. I am a singer, an actress, a performer. I am a believer. I am one who loves to laugh. I am locked in a lifelong battle with fat. I am a former Mesa City Champion swimmer. I am a lover of exercise. I am sarcastic. I am dramatical. I am strong willed. I am in love beyond words with my children. I am a “fixer”. I am not good at change. I am one who likes everything clean and in place. I am tough. I am quick to jump to conclusions. I am a fan of reading. I am a closet (meaning, hidden) interior designer. I am a reality TV junkie. I am an adequate piano player. I am a procrastinator to a criminal degree. I am a really fast typist. I am very impatient. I am really loving cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I am a great Boggle player. I am so lucky to have the family I have. I am witty. I am very tender hearted. I am GRATEFUL for all I have. I am intrigued by people and their lives. I am…….
Wait for it………….
A CHRONIC UNDERACHIEVER.
And this is what I want to talk about today. I have some examples, and I will share.
I’ve always known I was a bit more “laid back”, less driven if you will, but doing this training, and going through this experience has just shown me once again that, well, for lack of a better phrase; I sorta suck. And by suck, I mean, I give up, give in, am afraid of putting in the full effort, or afraid of pain, or whatever. I grew up in a family of super over achievers, starting with my parents and going right on down the line. I only have one brother who is similar to me, and don’t be offended Porter. It’s just, he’s also more laid back, not seemingly as driven as the rest. My other brother has ALWAYS been DRIVEN to be the BEST, the top, number 1. If he didn’t succeed the first time, he tried, tried again. He’s done very well for himself in his career, etc. because of his drive and tenacity. My three sisters are all type A overachievers. In school they did the best projects, got the best grades, and followed all the rules. Each of them is driven in their own ways, and successful at their own things. I’m sure they all look at me and silently shake their head in wonderment at my “attitude” on things. Just as much as I look at them and think…..”Why get all crazy, it’ll all work out.” However, I realize that I just really need to get over this issue and work to get a little more drive, and stop being such an underachiever. Ok, you want examples; let me give you a couple.
High school: I graduated 80th in a class of 700. Now, I’m sure you’re saying, well that really isn’t anything to be ashamed of. I’m not ashamed, however, it’s really sad that I was 80th, when I could have clearly been MUCH higher. The ONLY reason I know I was 80th is because at the end of my senior year my counselor called me into his office (which I had NEVER been in before ever) and informed me that I had earned a Presidential Scholarship (full tuition) to MCC for academics. I looked at him completely clueless. Was he talking to ME? I got what for what? It was then that he informed me of my rank in the class. My first thought and response to this was….”Hmmm, that’s CRAZY”, and “I don’t even want to go to college.” I had somehow received a scholarship for my academics and I had not done one thing to earn it my entire high school career. I did ONLY what I had to do to get by. I never exerted myself in any way. I would barely glance at something just before tests, as my form of studying. I turned in papers at the last possible moment. I hardly remember doing homework, EVER. While I did have friends who did AP classes, I really didn’t grasp what those were, or what the point of them were. I took EARTH SCIENCE because chemistry seemed way too hard and scared me. I was that lame; never applying myself and STILL got a scholarship. STILL graduated at a fairly decent number in my high school. First of all, what does that say about the 620 below me, and secondly, WHAT COULD I HAVE achieved? Where could I have gone had I actually worked at it? Had I actually used my intelligence and applied myself? Who knows?
When I finally got around to going to college for real, I did the same thing. I did only what I had to do to get by. Well, in academic classes that is. In performance classes I kicked some serious booty, but that’s because I enjoyed that, AND it came easily to me. But, in the end, I had to take some classes over, make up classes in summer school and it took me a little longer, due to my laziness I’m sure.
In church callings, I have always done just what I needed to. Nothing less, nothing more. I’m the world’s worst visiting teacher. And I know that by not giving it my all, I’m the one not learning and growing as I should.
In this triathlon training, what finally made me realize my loserishness is….if something starts to hurt, hurt at all, my immediate reaction is to quit. I don’t want to experience the pain. Except that you HAVE to experience the pain in order to improve and move forward. If I’m told to do something, and I don’t deem it something I want to do, I just dismiss it, even if it’s totally gonna help me out in the end. I’m totally that person in a class that when they’re doing stretches at the end and the teacher is holding a stretch…I just move on to the other side, ‘cause I’m done waiting for them. If I feel like moving on, quitting, whatever, I do it. So, when Dixie says one day, we’re gonna ride 20 miles, I immediately say, I’m NOT. We haven’t ridden over 12, what makes you think I can just add 8 more? Jenny and Dana were all ready to do it. They’re obedient little overachievers. Jenny has taken this whole situation and pushed herself to crazy new limits. She joined a running club, and she has a crazy trainer that makes her do things I’m sure aren’t humanly possible. Except, they are. Dana has pushed herself further than she EVER thought possible. She’s lost nearly 40 lbs. in the process, all because she committed in her heart and mind and wasn’t gonna quit. Don’t’ worry, that day we rode 14 miles, ‘cause we didn’t know how to find the right place to go 20. And, truth be told, I would have gone the 20, but shame on me for immediately being lame-o quitter girl.
I am not saying that I haven’t endured and broken new barriers and improved immensely through this all. I have. I have ridden further, swam farther, run faster (or run at all for that matter), sweated more than I EVER knew I could, or ever did before. I ran for ALMOST an entire ½ mile without stopping today. That is HUGE for me, HUGE! I have ridden a bike through intense pain, I’ve walked 5 miles, I’ve lost weight, strengthened muscles, forced myself out of bed with only 4 hours of sleep, etc. I know that I HAVE achieved. All I’m saying is, I’ve also NOT achieved all I COULD have. I have cheated myself not only in this process, but in life.
The triathlon is 2 short weeks away. I’ve trained; I’m ready as I’ll ever be. I know I can do it, and I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m scared, I’m nervous, but I know it is possible. I AM ready. And when I cross that finish line, whether it be first(snort!), last or somewhere in the middle, I’ll know that ANYTHING is possible. I’ll know that I CAN do it, I DID do it! And then it’s time to think about the next challenge, the next mountain for me to climb.
I don’t want to be the underachiever anymore. There is so much MORE I need to give to my children/family and to my students. They all deserve my best. What ultimately am I afraid of? How do I change a LIFETIME of mindset and bad habits? Where do I even begin?
Because someday I want to be able to say:
I AM EVERYTHING I can be. I AM an achiever of her goals.