To explain where I am now I must start from the beginning…so buckle up because this is going to be a three-part post.
But first, a little background on why I chose ol’ fashion blogging as the platform to share my story…
I often refer to my blog as a mind dump; a place where I can essentially word/idea/concept vomit in structured sentences. From a young age, I’ve always been a thinker and a writer – this by no means makes me an academic, I just ask a lot of questions- but had lost touch with my creative side due to the demands of adulthood. I briefly revisited the writing world after college while living in Finland for eight months where I launched “The Adventures of a Little Mixed Girl”, recounting my experience as professional athlete and foreigner in a Nordic country. In this moment I am sad to admit I have not written since returning to the States in the Spring of 2014 which is probably why my tendency to be extremely wordy has only been exacerbated. In college I was notorious for going over the word count for term papers and have been known to be THAT PERSON who sends the aggressively lengthy text messages – or you get three word answers, so take your pick. Writing has always also been a source of refuge for me. An outlet that never judged me or expected anything in return but only ask that I write what was in my heart. A type of therapy, if you will, which helped me through some of my toughest childhood moments. It was a type of expression I valued, but values have a way of changing.
Back to the nitty gritty…
Fit & Full was born after months and months of deep introspection. Breezing past my short collegiate coaching career, Go Bearcats!, and a brief stint back in The Land, one sunny August day I found my aimlessly wandering the the streets of Chicago. And when I say aimlessly I really mean that, about seven miles of it. This wandering wasn’t unnecessarily abnormal as I feel the best way to explore any new city is by foot – PLUG: check out my #100MilesofSummer challenge here – but at this point in my life, I had just moved to Chicago and was waiting for my boyfriend at the time to make his transition to the city, so I had some weekend time to kill. After trading my car in for a CTA pass, I found myself with responsibility free commute which meant two things; 1. I could text and ride (ayo!) and 2. I became addicted to podcasts. I never understood the allure of podcasts growing up. The idea of listening to people talk with no music for HOURS sounded more like a lecture but alas, there I was at 27 far down the podcast wormhole. During this particular afternoon, I was listening an episode of Brilliant Idiots featuring author, blogger and entrepreneur Mark Manson discussing his latest book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK”. (Despite the aggressive title – which I don’t necessarily disagree with because sometimes that’s how I feel – I encourage all of you to check this book out!) He was discussing the difference between good vs. bad values and the concept of “happiness”. I put quotes around happiness because it’s relative and I prefer to define happiness as “navigating the ebbs and flows of life with a consistent positive attitude.” Anyway, lots of good stuff was happening in their conversation and then Mark reflected on the part of his book where he talks about losing a friend in a freak cliff jumping accident that really struck me, declaring “The only way to know if somethings truly valuable or not is to think about dying.”
“The only way to know if somethings truly valuable or not is to think about dying.”
In my intro post, I divulged the sudden passing of my father and my mom’s current battle against cancer. So you can understand why this statement BEYOND resonated with me. As Mark states, “thinking about your own death clarifies what the meaning of your life is. What is the purpose of what you’re doing. What are you leaving behind?”. Or put simply, was XYZ (and this varies from the chase of girls, alcohol, those new shoes you HAVE to have) worth it? That’s when it dawned on me, the majority of the values I had in place and decisions I had made up to that point in my life had been heavily influenced by my friends, family, society and the expectations others had of me. I was living a life created and directed by OTHER people’s values. Not to say I did not make any decisions on my own but a lot of those decisions were to fall in line. During the podcast, Mark speaks on values saying, “We all decide what values are important. Bad values put you in the wrong direction and you end up working harder towards bad values.” Now, I’ve never been one to value anything I deem empty (i.e. materialism, the search for instant gratification, etc.) but I WAS valuing the opinion of others more than my own. I valued other people approving me by constantly saying “yes” to everyone else. You want to go out tonight? Yes. You want to drink today? Yes. You cool with me talking to you however I want while trampling all over your personal and emotional boundaries? Sure do! My values were placed on making sure everyone else had a positive experience of me in their mind while I sacrificed what was important to me. I has assimilated to vision of where I was “I supposed to be” and how I was “supposed to act” in efforts to feel included and important.
I had become a person I didn’t recognize. I was reactive and defensive to any negative opinion of me. I was so afraid to let other people down that I had become a “Yes Woman” which brought on its own issues. I was afraid to be vulnerable and admit when I was wrong. Always pointing the finger back at the other person when I felt “attacked”, never wanting to be held accountable for my actions. There was ALWAYS a reason “why” or a “because”. Only when I was backed into a corner did I own my mistakes. In Mark’s conversation with hosts Andrew Schulz and Charlamagne tha God, he describes growth as “The only way you’ll ever learn and grow is by admitting you’re wrong. If you’re never willing to admit you’re wrong or willing to back down from any of your positions, you’re just simply going to stagnate. Honestly, always having to be right is selfish and downright exhausting.
And in that moment I realized I had been living in a fog and the only way to get out was to dive deeper to dig out who Kayla truly was. Explore the good, the bad, and the hideous ugly. I ended relationships that didn’t align with my values, I mended broken ones. I reconnected with strong energies and formed new relationships that held me up during such a fragile time. I decided to take control of the Kayla between my two ears and bring her back to life. I decided to take responsibility for ME and me alone.
When you finally realize you have the power to control the way you think and feel, there’s nothing anyone can say to hurt you and you will always feel heard. Exploring those dark places and loving yourself is the hardest step, but the liberation you feel throughout the journey and the self-love you develop is something you’ll always have. Even when all seems lost. For we cannot love others if we do not first love ourselves.
I encourage you to take the leap, or even listen the the podcast, and see where your values stand.
Next week: Why Fit & Full – The Path to Authenticity.