on February 21, 2017
When was the last time you entered into something without first doubting yourself?
I'm not talking about the crippling kind of fear that keeps you locked in the comfort of your own living room (though that certainly is prevalent amongst many of us women as well). But rather the more subtle voices in your head that might cause you to hesitate or pause before moments that require your bravery.
"I can't ride that long," "I'm not fit enough for that spin class," "I don't think I can hike with those other ladies - they're way more fit,"I can't squat that much," "I can't keep up with the boys on that ski tour," "How steep is the climb? I don't think I'm skilled enough," and the list goes on. I can't, I'm not sure I can, I'm not this or I''m not that - we've all heard the voices, and now more than ever it's time to make it our daily work to silence them.
Too often we let the stereotypes of how women should look and be as athletes, dictate the boundaries of our own engagement. But now more than now ever, women are rising above those old limiting ideas, transforming the definitions of strength and femininity and opening up new and endless possibilities for women in general.
Shattering social norms, women in biking, skiing, running, Crossfit, swimming, SUP'ing, yoga and heck, even politics, are celebrated for their strength, grit, independence and determination. Now more than ever before, femininity and strength are intertwined. And I urge you pay attention to this.
It is critical that we see female strength in action, for it can have a profound effect on your own perception of what you can do. As women push their limits, they become role models for others seeking to discover what they are capable of. And YOU can be both. You can be both inspired by others and inspire others all in the same breath.
Like children watching our childhood heroes, we can discover our own potential inside the actions of another. By following their journey, imitating their ambition, stealing their drive, determination and motivation, we can borrow the same bravery and learn to take bigger leaps...finding freedom. Freedom from the cultural "can'ts" and mountains of nonsense that have taught us to question our own possibilities, our own strength, our own beauty. You see, no matter what your outlet of choice is - be it a bike, a pair of skis, an aerobics class, a steep climbing pitch, a massive mountain, a barbell or a punching bag - it is just as much a symbol as it is a tool.
A symbol of your strength and a tool for unending possibilities. It stands for everything men have been taught to chase, and everything women have been taught to hide behind - power and bravery. But we can be and can continue to build new class of athletes - architects and trailblazers creating a new path built on toughness, resilience, grit and bravery. We can choose to throw out the maps drawn from doubt, and paint new ones with our brushes formed from toughness.
You see, weakness dies only in the face of strength. So those voices of "can'ts, shouldn'ts, maybe not's, not enough's," they MUST be buried from the dust left in exhibitions of our strength. And what remains? A beautiful and magical sprinkling of potential and endless possibilities ahead.
"While playing sports our bodies are used to with as we please. If in that process our bodies become unfeminine- if they become bruised or bloodied or simply unattractive - That seems irrelevant. Our bodies are ours. We own them."
- Mariah Nelson, author of "Are We Winning Yet?"