In the newest book by Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing, chapter four talks about the fourth excuse women use when they can’t or won’t even try to accomplish their goals. The excuses provided in her book before and after this one are equally important, but this excuse was one that is extremely relative to my story, and therefore, I am sharing it with you here: the excuse that tells you, “I’m not enough to succeed.”
I mentioned in my More About Me page that I had been mentally and verbally abused. From the age of about eight or ten up until the time I moved out at 18, I was told by my step-father that I was a worthless, lazy glutton that would never amount to anything. There were many variations of these words, but the message was always the same… and I grew to believe it. (Before I go any further, I absolutely need to make sure all of my readers know that my dad was a completely different person when I was growing up. He has since found the Lord, we have repaired our relationship, and we are closer than ever!)
As an adult, I found that I was caught in a never-ending cycle of perfectionism and dissatisfaction. No matter what I accomplished, it wasn’t enough. This makes sense because as I was growing up, if I earned a “B” on a test, I was told it should have been an “A” instead. If I cleaned the bathroom top to bottom, he found the one hair I missed on the sink. I’m sure I don’t need to give any more details for you to get the idea.
Unfortunately, if that was my dad’s way of “encouraging” me to reach for the stars, it severely backfired. It turned me into an unfulfilled and unsatisfied perfectionist who couldn’t see the good in anything she did.
I constantly beat myself up for not going to college every time I didn’t get the job I wanted. When I published my first book, I was convinced it “didn’t count,” because I self-published instead of finding an agent. And when I did go back to college, I earned my Associate’s Degree with a 3.9 GPA but was devastated that it wasn’t a 4.0. In short, I had let the size of my paycheck (and the size of my body!) determine my value and worth instead of walking in my God-given identity.
Do you see why Excuse #4 in Rachel’s book totally resonated with me? I highly recommend this book, (as well as her first one, Girl, Wash Your Face). But, until you get your own copy, I want to share with you a life-changing exercise that she encourages us to do when we are in doubt about our ability to achieve our dreams.
She tells us to write a letter to ourselves. It should be from that part of us that never gave up. It should be from our “persistence and tenacity,” and we are to focus on all the things we have done instead of all the things we haven’t done. She even encourages us to update it as often as necessary. In her book, she candidly shares with us the very first letter she wrote to herself when this exercise was suggested to her, and now I am going to candidly share my letter with all of you.
Please know that I am not sharing this to be boastful, but to be transparent. I want to be relatable to you, and if nothing else, I want to jog your memory about some things you have accomplished that you may not have thought of yourself! Know that if you choose to do this exercise, your letter will be for your eyes only, unless you want to share it with someone else who needs to be encouraged!
Use your own voice. This letter is to you, from you. Be honest. Tell it like it is, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling. I intend to make a copy of mine for each of my girls, so I can leave a legacy of confidence, not cowardice. With that, here is my letter:
Hello, woman! Wake up and pay attention, because this is a very important letter that contains a lot of very important information. Hi, this is your Persistence & Tenacity, now listen up!
First of all, straighten up that crown of yours and act like the princess you are! Why? Because it was no accident that you were adopted into the Royal Family. Not only did God choose you from the very beginning, but you chose Him, too. And you did it because you are a good mother! When you had your first child, you wanted a different life for her than what you had. You looked at that precious little baby and then made a life-changing decision for both of you.
Not only did you want God to be an important part of your lives, but you did something more… you stopped the cycle! You stopped the cycle of partying; you stopped the cycle of divorce; and most importantly, you stopped the cycle of abuse. You have overcome and risen above! You chose to rise above your circumstances. You wanted better for your life, so you endured more than ten years of scary and painful therapy. You learned healthy ways to cope with trauma, stress, and fear. You made yourself forgive, so you could step forward and step up. Then….
You spoke to large crowds of people about it! And here’s a newsflash for you… you are a great public speaker! You may have been a hot mess on the inside, but you never showed it on the outside.
You pursued further education- twice. You not only did your two-year Literature Course after graduation, but when you went back to school to get your Psychology degree, you were 38 years old, working part-time, raising three kids, and leading a Girl Scout Troop! When you got that Associate’s Degree, you got it with a 3.9 GPA. Let’s not forget… You wrote a novel! You wrote it, then you learned how to self-publish it, and you were able to self-edit it, too. Now you have a book on Amazon! And you think you haven’t accomplished anything yet? Come on, girl. Don’t be ridiculous.
Okay, now let’s talk about the elephant in the room… your health and body. Remember when I reminded you of all the family cycles you stopped? Well how about the cycle of constant overeating and bad food choices? When this health & wellness company came into your life, the Holy Spirit gave you the power to overcome, and now you are heading towards Food Freedom!
Last but not least, let’s talk about that dirty little four-letter “F” word…. FEAR! Listen, girlfriend, if you were to have a check list of all the times you showed Fear who’s boss, it might look something like this…
You hate being the center of attention, but you became a public speaker because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. You were always a shy introvert, but you faked it until you made it, and now you’re a people-person!
When your daughter was going through her medical trauma and had to have two brain surgeries and then a Bilateral Adrenalectomy, they were the scariest times of your entire life. You not only had to be strong for her, but you learned how to give up control and trust God.
When your other daughter was away at college, which was scary enough by itself, your heart sank every time she called home because you never knew what was waiting for you on the other end of the line. But, your daughter needed you, so you faced it every single time because you knew that burying your head in the sand would not help her overcome.
Despite being a nervous wreck, you’ve driven in busy cities by yourself, you’ve gracefully made it through over a dozen job interviews in your lifetime, and they don’t even make you nervous anymore, you’ve had three surgeries, you’ve survived losing a parent, you’ve gone through intensive training to do volunteer work at a crisis pregnancy center, you’ve gone through more intensive training to become a certified lay minister, you’ve taken steps to start your own ministry at church, you became an entrepreneur, and you’ve had to kill spiders all by yourself when no one else was around!
The list of ways in which you have conquered fear goes on and on, so why let fear hold you back now? As your favorite friend, Winnie the Pooh says, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” And you…are not…a quitter.
Be proud of all those hats you wear! Wife, mother, author, online content writer, public speaker, entrepreneur, college graduate, spiritual leader, family secretary, prayer warrior, and one heck of a tenacious, goal digging, go-getter!
Before I go, let me remind you of the lyrics from one of your favorite songs…
“Fear, you don’t own me. There ain’t no room in this story. And I ain’t got time for you telling me what I’m not like you know me, well guess what? I know who I am! I am strong, brave, and I am free. I’ve got my own identity! So, Fear, you will never be welcome here!”
Another hat I wear is Encourager. Now I encourage you to grab a journal & a pen and your favorite feel-good beverage, and get writing. Here, I’ll start it for you: Dear (your-name-here), this is your Persistence & Tenacity, and I want to remind you that YOU ARE AWESOME! And do you know why?
Fill in the blanks.
Don’t be scared; it’s easier than you think once you get on a roll! For a little extra encouragement, maybe you first want to take a listen to the song I referenced in my letter. You can do so here. Download it, install it, save it, or whatever you do to get it on your favorite device, and listen to it every day!
*You don’t have to share your letter with me, but if you want to share any part of it, or if you want to share anything about how it made you feel, I would welcome those comments! Kick Fear to the curb, and happy writing!*