I did not qualify to compete at the 2014 USA Weightlifting National Championships held in early July. But I had a great excuse: I’m old. After all, I’m in the Masters division of this sport. The National Championships are open to any age and it’s filled with people in their twenties. I’m forty. And hey, I’m also in one of the most competitive weight classes for women, 63k, and it’s harder to qualify as a 63 than, say, a 75+.
I’ve got my excuses down.
So when I saw that Jacqueline Jane’t, a woman with whom I’ve lifted at meets and in training, qualified for and competed at Nationals, at 51 years old and as a 63k lifter, well…I could no longer use my age and weight class excuses to explain why I wasn’t there.
If I didn’t know Jacqueline personally, I might have used her to make up some new excuses for myself: she’s probably been lifting her whole life. (Nope, found it late in life just like me.)
What happens if you really care about something, if you really try, if you really put everything else behind you in pursuit of this one thing – but you don’t succeed? You don’t meet the goal?
I haven’t competed in CrossFit in several years, but I’ve been thinking about getting back into it. Of course, I’ve got my excuses ready and in place for any lackluster performance. I’m a single parent of young children! I’m running a business! Of course I could never do that well!
I was watching the 2014 CrossFit Games online. I see this woman I’ve never seen before, Tiffany Hedrickson, blazing through the running-muscle up biathlon, and the announcers are saying she has three young kids. Shoot, there goes my ‘I’m raising young kids’ excuse.
I watch Valerie Voboril kick ass as she always does, thinking about how she not only has a young child at home, but is a classroom teacher. As a former teacher myself, I know that good teachers work around the clock and the work is never done. My ‘I have a demanding work life’ excuse – gone.
I have many more excuses in my back pocket, but at some point I gotta call myself out. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing myself for being where I am athletically (and otherwise). Quite the contrary: I’m really proud of my athletic (and other) achievements, especially because of my age and because I’ve done these things while running a business and raising young kids on my own.
The thing is, we all have perceived limitations. Everyone. Some people have families to support. Some people care for elderly parents or kids with special needs. Some people go to school full time while also working. Most people never have ‘enough’ money. Some people have faced not only personal but systemic, institutional discrimination. Many have been abused in some way in their lives. Maybe some people have a harder lot in life than others, but if you think you’re one of them, get in line.
I know these are real issues and challenges that we face daily.
The problem for me is that if I use these perceived limitations as excuses, even as I create new goals and work hard to make new achievements, then I’m always giving myself a way out of trying my best, of putting it all on the line.
Just last week on the gym floor someone said to me, ‘there’s no point in competing unless you’re going to win.’ That is such bullshit. You can’t win unless you enter the fight! And when you enter, you don’t know what the results will be. You have to risk losing in order to win. Which is why we come up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t even try, or like in my case, we try but don’t really give it 100% and hold on to all those excuses why.
Because what happens if you really care about something, if you really try, if you really put everything else behind you in pursuit of this one thing – but you don’t succeed? You don’t meet the goal? You don’t win, and you have no excuses to use?
That’s a trick question. Your answer is your own, and your answer will reflect why you do the things you do in your life and why you achieve or don’t achieve what you want, and how you handle any of it – successes or failures. And the only way to truly answer that question is to try it.
I’m ready and I invite you to join me. Let me know if you’re in.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”