A year ago today, this random, stupid thing happened to me. And it sucked. And it screwed me up for a little while. But then it led to a year full of personal growth and self-discovery! Right after it happened, I texted to my best friend that I would never be the same again...and I think I was right, but not in the way I expected. In the moment I felt damaged and traumatized, but a year later I am better, wiser, stronger. The scars will always be there, but they serve as reminders of what I can overcome.
I've been through such a roller coaster of emotions and experiences in the past year, that I couldn't pick just one theme to reflect on and write about today. Instead, I'm going to share with you a list of various lessons learned.
In the past year, I have learned...
~~That courage is like a muscle: it grows stronger the more it is used.
~~That fear can be good, because it lets us know that we appreciate what is at stake. Someone who takes life's blessings for granted isn't afraid of losing them. A healthy amount of fear is a reminder that we love our people, chase our dreams, and take reasonable risks while living our lives because these things matter to us.
~~That another reason fear is good is that it's the only path to finding our courage. After all, there is no need for courage when there is no fear. And even if we think we are very brave, nothing compares to proving it to ourselves.
~~That it's okay to feel broken sometimes; we all do. But at some point you have to stop seeing yourself as just the egg and realize that you are in fact the whole omelet.
~~That my mental health is as important as my physical health, and deserves my care and attention.
~~That my blessings outweigh my burdens even when my burdens are at their heaviest.
~~That pursuing a huge crazy dream like triathlon is a great way to restore your self-esteem, but it doesn't actually solve any of your other problems -- those will be waiting patiently to punch you in the gut during the post-race slump!
~~That you can't keep putting off your dreams until you're thinner or have more money or a less busy schedule, or until the time is otherwise "right." Sometimes the wrong time IS the right time. The clock is ticking. Don't wait. Do it now.
~~That it's possible to wish something hadn't happened and be grateful that it did happen at the same time. I wish those kids hadn't targeted me that day, but if they hadn't, I might not be a triathlete right now. Life's funny that way.
~~That triathlon is crazy, but swimming, biking, and running keep me sane. Go figure.
~~That my husband is a saint (okay, I already knew that!) and that putting my marriage first benefits everyone in our family.
~~That I am loved...so very, very loved. And that I'm worthy of that love. And that I should participate in it as well.
In conclusion, I'd like to address the people whose actions kicked off my year of self-discovery, even though I doubt they'll ever see this:
To the kids who targeted me, tormented me, attacked me....I forgive you. Actually I forgave you months ago when I finally accepted what deep down I already knew -- that harboring anger and resentment toward you wasn't affecting you in any way, and was simply wasting energy that could be better spent on more positive endeavors. And so I forgave you, and let go of the anger.
If I feel anything toward you now, it is pity, for I gained something far more valuable from our little encounter than you possibly could have. What you got that day was a few laughs; what I experienced was an overwhelming outpouring of love and support. Family, friends, and people I didn't even know reached out to me with kind words of encouragement, real and virtual hugs, prayers, and even gifts.
When you push others down, you might be able to look down on them, but you are not actually lifted up. Cruelty never uplifts; only love can do that. Cruelty loses. Love wins.* Love always wins.
Therefore, instead of wishing you harm, or even wishing for justice, I now wish you nothing but love. I sincerely hope you find enough love in your lives -- from family, friends, mentors, whomever -- to fill you up and lift you up. You are so young...you have plenty of time left ahead of you to change from people who hurt others to people who love, and are loved in return. Then everyone wins.
*TM Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery.