Words to Live By

I’m not someone who is particularly good at making, much less following through with, New Year’s resolutions. I typically fail at them, and my overly competitive athlete mind would prefer not to look failure in the face.

So instead of resolutions, I’ve started picking out words that I find interesting or poignant or even slightly intimidating. Towards the end of my senior year of college, I became obsessed with the word “embrace.”

Why? I couldn’t tell you. But you bet I incorporated that word into everything: I doodled it on my class notes, painted it onto a canvas, made it into a necklace that I wore every day for the better part of a year. I even blogged about it.

It’s sort of how I started this blog actually. I was trying so hard to avoid what was right in front of me – uncertainty. And a lot of it. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a set plan. I didn’t know what the “next step” would be..

But then I realized this hurdle resembled many of the challenges I had faced on the court. Instead of avoiding and fearing things like games and practices and, God forbid, the conditioning test, I had to, quite simply, embrace them. Real life requires this same kind of mindset. There’s no running from the uncomfortable things in life. No matter how much you don’t want to, no matter how scary it may seem, we have to face them head-on. We have to confront our inner demons. Deal with our emotions, no matter how sh*tty they might seem. Embrace the suck in order to dare greatly.

Here is a list of things that I’ve had to embrace this year:

  1. Change: Post-grad life is all about change; and not just external circumstances. In the same way that college provides ample opportunities for transformative self-exploration, the “adult” world (and I use that term loosely) allows you to completely reinvent yourself – if you let it. Learning to embrace this season of change was more difficult, and so much more rewarding, than I ever could have dreamed.
  2. My prideful nature: Admitting that I am a prideful person was hard enough. Embracing it? Damn near impossible. But coming clean about one of my faults was surprisingly affirming rather than shaming. I have found that embracing my not so imperfect parts allows me to work on them.
  3. Losing friendships: Whew. To say that this was hard to embrace would be the understatement of the century. And if we’re being honest here, I’m not totally certain I have yet. But – slowly – I have come to understand that sometimes these things happen. And I’ve had to embrace the fact that losing these friendships is not a direct reflection of my worthiness.
  4. Vulnerability & sharing when it’s not ideal: Allowing people to see the “delicate parts of me” has been quite the unexpected experience. Thank you to those who were willing to listen and were patient enough to hear me out time and time again. You know who you are. I’ve also embraced being vulnerable with myself: it’s so easy to ignore the “ugly parts” of ourselves. I can lie to myself pretty well if I want to. Pretending to be perfect is a skilled I have honed over the years. But it’s been oh so refreshing, and more than freeing, to be able to say, hey, I kind of suck at this, let’s work on it.
  5. Living in the tension: Coaching has unexpectedly become a very tension-filled area in my life, and also one of the most challenging and humbling experiences to date. I thought that being a “good” captain would easily equate to being a “good” coach. I was honestly naïve enough to believe that I had it all together and that coaching would be a breeze. Yeah…definitely not. When dealing with 15 different personalities on any given day, how hard you work isn’t the determining factor that defines your success. You need to also factor in grace, understanding, empathy, a thick skin, trust, ethics and good communication skills. And then maybe, maybe, you’ll be good.
  6. Being ok with messing up – a lot: Ironically, my job at Santa Barbara Roasting Company has helped me the most with this. When you don’t know how to make a latte or ring up a “quad shot half-caf breve cappuccino” on the register, you need to be ok with messing up, admitting it, and asking for help. Basically, you have to embrace your lack of knowledge and have a plethora of grace for yourself and others. Another humbling experience for Lauren.

Clearly, the word “embrace” has taught me a thing or two the past couple of months.

So… my new word for 2017? Courage.

I originally picked this word because it’s confusing to me. I can’t pick out moments in my life where I think I’ve been “courageous.” When I think of courage I picture men lined up on the battlefield defending their country, the girl in the hospital bed fighting against cancer, the widow who’s lost her husband unexpectedly but who chooses joy every day.

I am none of these things.

But I refuse to believe that we can’t choose courage even if we aren’t faced with tremendous grief or hardship or pain. I think we can be courageous every day. I think we can find small moments where we are called to be courageous…

…voicing our opinions, even if they contradict the status quo. Admitting when we don’t know the answer. Attempting to understand someone who is perceived as different from us. Forgiving undeservedly. Making people feel like they belong. Loving each other when it’s not convenient for us. Loving ourselves in a world that tells us otherwise. Loving the struggle because we know it breeds perseverance. Sharing our stories even when every fiber in our body is screaming no! Trusting each other…

These are just a few ways that I feel like we can live courageously every day. Easy to say, hard to do. In short, I can’t wait to see what this word brings in the new year!

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