Impressions. What an interesting concept. To think that others have an initial assumption of who I am when they meet me and that I have the same for them. I’ve often wondered what type of first impression I give to the people I meet. Quite frequently I encounter individuals who feel I am rather bold and I often hear, “I could never have started my own business.” Or, “I’d never be able to backpack for the weekend or climb like you do.” Others listen to my seemingly exciting tales and return the favor with a story of visiting Nepal or Thailand to climb the big stuff. Wow…I’ve never done that!
I don’t talk about these experiences to make my choice in lifestyle seem exotic or unreachable. On the contrary, I have a confession to make. I often feel just average. Starting a business and climbing rocks are not activities that happened without fear, I promise you that. More often than not, I feel like a mouse, not a tiger. Isn’t it funny then that to some of you my lifestyle seems fiercely adventurous, and to others it’s just mediocre?
We all have our own style of living. I’d be willing to bet that we all feel full of courage sometimes and completely average other times. This is my story of finding the extraordinary in the well, ordinary. I hope it helps you to answer the question, “what’s so special about me?”
At first sight, I’m your typical girl next door. I have average brown hair, average brown eyes and an average build. I’m of average age and stand at an unremarkable 5’4.” When I was younger, my vacations were ordinary travel tales of beach hours logged. My friends and I got into typical trouble – nothing that would allow even a small gasp to escape from our elders. Until the age of 23, I’d never really done anything extraordinary in my life – at least not by my definition. I felt the potential inside of me though. I had a longing to experience new things and a serious interest in adventure.
So, I listened to that longing. I made “the list.” Shifting perspective, I began to see the world differently – more from the eyes of the adventurous person I wanted to be and less from the passion-less homebody. I listed out 20-30 things I’d always wanted to do. Things like ‘eat foreign food’ and ‘go skydiving.’ I still reference that list to this day…and add to it!
My goal was to be more like the adventurous people that interested me. I desired a fearless lifestyle. I made the decision to start intentionally beginning new adventures. As my perception of the world changed, so did my interests, my hobbies and my behaviors. Each time I tiptoed into a new activity, my fear of the unknown bothered me less and less. I met more and more people going on even crazier adventures and began inviting a few novices to join me on my pursuits.
All of this helped me to grow into the person I am, but the added adventure doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with feelings of worry, doubt, fear and being just average. See, the thing is, no matter what I push for, someone else is always ahead of me pushing even harder. I LOVE that. I always have something to reach for and someone to help guide my way.
How you feel about yourself is all in your perception. I guarantee that you witness people who seem to do more, give more and be more. I think it’s safe to assume that people look at you with the same observation. This statement packs a big punch and is easy to skim over, so don’t disregard it: always being the middle person leads to a very definitive feeling of being just average. What a great place to be! Don’t let this feeling discourage you, just put it in perspective: this means that you are both striving for more and reaching back to help others who want to grow. Think of it as a team approach.
Remember that just as important as having mentors and teachers, it’s also important to look at your contribution to the world. You’ve done extraordinary things in your life. Think about the people who come to you for advice, expertise or compassion. Reflect on some of the comments you’ve heard from those who look up to you.
You might be reading this thinking, ‘I really haven’t touched anyone and I can’t think of someone who has said positive things about me,’ or even ‘it makes me uncomfortable to acknowledge myself for things I’ve done well.’ In truth, there is always someone out there that has looked at you in a positive way before. How many times have you admired someone’s fashion sense or response to a conversation in a meeting? Those are small moments of high regard. They happen all the time.
If you can’t pinpoint when someone is acknowledging you, it’s time to amplify those traits so that others can’t help but point them out. Think of someone you respect. What traits do they have? What are some of the things they participate in that you’ve always wanted to do? You probably find it easy to understand why you aspire to be more like them right? They embody whatever it is that you appreciate about them. How can you begin to move toward that vision?
I’m not suggesting that you become an exact duplicate of this person, but rather, start playing in their world. Find your own world through the example of others. Tiptoe into those waters and see what feels right for you, then do more of it! Make a list. Start easy. Get to know your passions. Before long, you’ll have plenty of people wanting to be a part of your experiences, wanting to show you new things and again you’ll find yourself feeling a bit average…but in the most adventurous way!