A few weeks ago I published a blog post where I shared a snapshot of my experience with depression.
The response was overwhelming. Over 100 people got in touch. Many said they related to my experience, many also were astonished that “someone like” me had ever felt the way I described.
Right from when I first started blogging in 2002, I’ve always been very open on social media and I don’t hold back much from sharing my fearful, weaker, more vulnerable side…or at least I feel like I don’t. So I was bit surprised that people were so shocked.
But I get it, everyone’s timeline is busy, we all skim-read posts and it’s easy to form quite one-dimensional views about people we only “know” online.
People tend to see me as confident, upbeat, strong and energetic. And I am all of those things, a lot of the time. But not all of the time. And I certainly wouldn’t have always aligned myself with those traits.
In my work as a fitness trainer one thing I see holding a lot of people back is that they label themselves as “not a fitness person”.
To them, fitness is more for “someone like Julia” who has loads of energy and self-belief and was probably that really popular girl who was captain of all the sports teams at school.
I see similar mindsets holding people back in their careers, relationships, personal development, and all other aspects of life.
That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to help people break out of that. The realisation that who we were, or how we saw ourselves in the past, does not have to determine our future, is one of the most powerful we can make – I know it has been for me.Who we were, or how we saw ourselves in the past does not have to determine our future. Click To Tweet
So here goes…
As a youth I was a basically a loser. Or that’s how I felt.
The popular girls thought I was weird and often told me so. My social skills were dire. Boys weren’t interested in me. I found it hard to concentrate in class and didn’t do well academically. AND I had no sporting ability whatsoever.
School PE lessons were a weekly humiliation where I would usually be picked last for any team games. Eventually I started skiving off (skipping school) to avoid them. This led to me getting in with a bad crowd and into some bad stuff. As a result, bad things happened to me, things I can’t go into here. Anyway, I completely messed up school and left with virtually no qualifications. Outside I was a rebellious teenage girl reeking of too much hairspray stomping around in a leather jacket and Dr Martens boots. Inside I was, yes angry, but also sad, with low self-esteem and afraid of the future.
My twenties were a bit better, at least on the outside. I worked my ass off and carved what was shaping up to be a great career, I made lots of lovely friends and fell in love with the man who is now my husband. But I was still dealing with a lot of emotional issues and, as described in the post I mentioned earlier, for a while I struggled with quite debilitating depression.
It was only really in my 30’s, as I began to build on the inner work which had helped me to claw my way out of depression, that I started to develop the confidence, strength and energy some people think defines me now.
I’m not saying this to make you feel sorry for me. God, please don’t feel sorry for me of all people, I have a fantastic life and am now tremendously grateful for all the experiences that helped me get here. I’m not saying it to try to impress either – it’s clearly a load of “first world crap” and people overcome much bigger obstacles and go on to have more of an impact on the world than I am.
But as I mentioned above, I think that for some people, discovering that “someone like me” not only came from that history, but was essentially created by it, this could be really helpful.
Also, I’m pretty sure that many of those who were surprised by my depression post are the same people who, see me doing something that looks easy for me like press ups or burpees or other advanced exercises and get disheartened when they find it’s a lot harder for them. They don’t stop to think that it might once have been hard for me as well… and, therefore, with effort and time, one day it could be easy for them too. Because we work through our weakness and struggles and that’s how we become strong.We work through our weakness and struggles and that’s how we get stronger. Click To Tweet
I fought through self-doubt, weakness and vulnerability to finally nail my first full press-up, to write my book, to get to the point where I have the confidence to broadcast live videos, and for almost all of my proudest achievements – and it took me till my 30’s or later to be able to do most of it.
Of course, I’m far from the only one who had take the rocky road. Sure, there are people who seem to sail through life and never experience physical or emotional “weaknesses”. But there are many others whose strength was forged by overcoming their weakness.
So, if you are currently weak in any area you want to become strong, that’s a fine place to start.
Like me, when you get to be able to do press-ups, or have a best-selling book, or have the confidence to talk into a video camera, or get to wherever it is YOU want to be, you still won’t always feel amazing every minute of every day. Be ready for that.
But along the way, you will learn ways to quieten the negative chatter in your head and discover actions you can take that will empower and strengthen you.
When you get there, or even part of the way there, don’t forget to tell people about where you were before. Then they’ll know there’s a road “someone like them” can follow too.
If you’d like to read the post I referred to about my experience with depression go here.