Revelation. A piece inspired by the Climb.
Independent. Stubborn. Optimistic. Blithe. These are the qualities I most identify with and equally take the most pride in -- yet these are the first (okay maybe not stubborn) that seem to fallaway in more relationship-eras than I care to count. In said relationships, I was always ready to latch onto someone else's dreams, jump into the passenger seat and go along for the ride. Looking back on these times, I can't help but wonder, did I really not have my own dreams to live out? Or did I have them, but choose to ignore them because putting "love" first was more important? I see now that my passenger seat ride was effectively a one-way ticket to self-destruction.
Over the course of my 27+ year relationship with my Dad, I've assembled quite the collection of what I affectionately call "Steve Wowk-isms". Some of these are sayings ("only brush the teeth you want to keep"), others are words of wisdom ("practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect") and most, if not all of them, are unsolicited pieces of advice that he's dispensed over the years. As I get (gulp) older, I have the ability to dust off some of these anecdotes and see their value in a much clearer light. One instance in particular that's stuck with me -- the day I told my Dad I wanted to be a cheerleader for my high school hockey team. Now, I had always been an athlete - mostly a soccer player but I had tried my hand at a few other sports as well. Being a lifelong hockey player himself, I thought my Dad would be pleased I didn't choose the "other winter sport" ("basketball, the anti-hockey" #SteveWowk-ism). Dad's reply? No. No, you will not be a cheerleader. You can play the sport, but you will not cheer for it. Now drop down and give me 20 push-ups. (I'm not kidding.) To be fair, it's not that my Dad wanted me to be a tomboy. I very clearly see now, he just didn't want his daughter on the sideline. He had raised me to get in the game, be an active player, a contributor, a leader. He had taught me to raise my hand and go first. He did not want me to be someone who played a supporting role. In other words, I was better than that. A-ha! A revelation. Now it shouldn't come as a surprise that my Dad has never really taken to any of the guys I've dated. Not that they weren't good guys (most of them), but he probably saw how I was playing cheerleader. Where was his star athlete? Why was she on the sideline? No wonder none of them have ever worked out...
I don't know why I was content to play cheerleader in the past, but I do know after every failed relationship, there are 2 things I've always come back to wanting: a big life and a great love. The latter is a chapter I can't write yet. As for the former, what this means exactly is hard to convey. What I can explain is that my heart would literally ache when I'd hear friends' stories of traveling the world. Spending a year abroad. A work secondment overseas. Having a big life directly correlates to my strong desire to see the world. In short, I have wanderlust. Being given this opportunity is the ultimate realization of a dream. At one time in my life (and in a very different context), I said "it's really scary to get everything you want." Turns out "everything" is a very relative term. And I have to admit -- nothing about getting my big life is scary - it's thrilling and humbling and positively electrifying, but far from scary.
Another quote that's stuck with me (not a Steve Wowk-ism, I'm afraid, but character building nonetheless) -- "you have to find one thing in your life that you're amazing it. Being mediocre at a bunch of things leads to a mediocre life." This experience has given me the opportunity to look at things I want to be amazing at; ask myself what do I enjoy - what excites me? It's also allowed me to block out the "noise" and tune in to the creative side I've kept stifled for so long. I know this revelation is the very beginning stages of my process, but I'm excited to have a path ahead of me. I've played cheerleader for far too long, it's time I start calling the shots... and I'm swinging for the fences.