In the past week, I’ve reached a handful of physical goals. I sent (climbed without falling) a rock climb that a year ago I would have said was impossible for me. I did more pull ups than I’ve ever done in my life. I did a pistol squat. I’m not trying to brag (or be “brag-a-dotious” as my endearing NOLS student called it). Each of these milestones is a reminder to me to show up every day whether or not I want to. Because more often than not, I don’t want to.
I remember the journey to the first pull up. It was years— no exaggeration— of sporadically working hard to build the strength to lift my long body over the bar. I had every excuse in the book dialed— I have a plus four ape index (my arms are really long), I’m an endurance athlete not a strong one, it’s harder for women to do pull ups. And then I started living in Lander full time and saw how many strong women had my body type and could do pull ups. So I put in the work consistently over six months and shocked myself when one “random” day I could pull my chin over the bar. It wasn’t random at all— it was like an ice cube melting. The temperature rises for a long time before you start to see water.
There’s something so tangible about reaching physical goals. I know that if I’m consistent, put in the work, and break it down in to micro goals, I’m almost guaranteed to reach them (if I choose the right goal in the first place). When I wanted to run 50 miles, I started nine months out and chipped away slowly. If I want to lift a certain weight, I add weight little by little over the course of months. My body adapts and changes.
Why is it so much harder to chip away at non-physical goals? I face rejection with writing weekly if not daily, and I use it as an excuse to quit. This must mean this vocation isn’t for me. Well, I guess I should just move on and save face. If I were more skilled/talented/gifted, this wouldn’t happen.
But who gives a damn about talent?
Can I show up when I don’t want to? Can I choose failure one thousand times for each single success? Yes. Of course I can. I just need to go to practice. Write a little bit every day. Some people won’t want it. That’s fine. Some people will .Authenticity, love, vulnerability— that’s what I can be about.
I can’t remember where I heard it, but recently I learned about Steve Martin’s story. As a teenager, he did magic tricks and sold guidebooks in Disneyland. He started writing and performing standup, getting booed offstage at tiny clubs around LA. Years later, he began to have small breakthroughs in comedy.
Magic tricks at Disneyland. Years later. There are so many helpful reminders for me. This isn’t going to be easy, and it’s not going to happen overnight. But the only way I can give it a fair shot is to show up to practice every day. Chip away and put in the work. Because nobody’s going to do it for me.