This word has dominated me for a long time.
At first I had no idea. It was just a feeling. All through my swimming career, a deep rooted not-enoughness that only was observable – due to my limited ability to hear my thoughts – as one of those clouds that follow a cartoon character around. At the time I thought I was just a boring person – an insecurity that still peeks its annoying little head up once in a while. Even looking back on pictures, I can see it all over my face. It’s uncanny, really. Of course sometimes the sunshine pierced through, but the majority of my teens and early-20’s felt kinda … blah.
Then I left swimming and my world completely shattered. It was a decision of choice, maybe the first real decision I had ever made. I went out on a high note (olympic gold and the crowd goes wild, wooooo!!! – all the while still with my lovely blah cloud-buddy overhead) but that didn’t make it much easier. Any retired athlete can tell you this is a TOUGH time. There’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, it might have been the best thing that ever happened to me. Deciding to start over. Becoming a rookie again. A new life. It made me start to think. To REALLY think. And thinking lead to researching, to studying and to practicing.
The more I started to get my (mental) hands dirty in the inner workings of the mind, the more I realized one simple reality: I was stuck. Stuck in a self-definition. Stuck in a role that didn’t fit. Stuck in frustration of not knowing. Stuck in trying to fit in. Stuck in self-shame. Stuck in not being what other people wanted. Stuck in (seemingly) not knowing anything.
Three years have passed since I retired. OH how time flies! You’d think that in the course of over a thousand days, one would be able to unstick a bit yet the more I desperately seek UNSTUCKNESS the more places I notice how deeply stuck I am. What a mouthful! And, what an utterly annoying feeling to be stuck in… gah!
When I first dove into working with my mind I was infatuated by it’s potential and its engineering. I still nerd out on how the brain works, it is truly fascinating. The more I learned and applied, the more hooked I became and the more I uprooted certain thoughts and new issues to deal with. Wait wait wait… the more I looked in to it, the more I found to fix. Crank the brakes… that doesn’t sound all too satisfying at all: the more I worked, the more work I uncovered. At one point, a conversation with a friend left her in telling me it might be better off to just not look, as the alternative seemed quite painful.
Painful and painstaking it is indeed, but it was also deeply fulfilling. I know so much more about myself now than at the Closing Ceremonies in London. But somehow, I am still freakin’ STUCK!
Ironically enough, teaching others to get unstuck has become a developing passion of mine. I suppose its true, we teach what we most struggle with.
But today, 1301 days into my new life and many STUCK situations realized, I had a tinsy minor little UNSTICKING feeling. It was small. It was the most minor shift in seeing something in the slightest bit of different light. But I feel UNSTUCK. And that’s something to celebrate. Maybe even with a little party-horn emoji… 🎉 (phew that felt good.)
We tend to feel the most pain, frustration and angst in those things that are bothering us most, this is nothing new. The fascination steps in when we realize that our effort, sincere as it may be, to break through that thing that’s holding us most captive, that EFFORT is actually the thing holding the handcuffs. In other words, STUCK did not own me… I was keeping IT as my favorite little pet.
The chains are my thoughts and habits, the key is somewhere inside all that mind-digging. Unlocking one little door is not the end (celebration is still welcomed, though, double party-horn emoji? Anyone?! 🎉 🎉 It’s eerie how rewarding that feels) but the beginning to searching for many more.
This is the work, and this is what keeps me constantly curious. And that’s something to be excited about.