A few weeks ago, I stood just in front of the stage that one of my all time favorite bands was playing a concert on. I hung on every note and watched in awe, almost not believing that these people were playing this music in my presence. The group’s instruments and voices came together to form my favorite songs in the best way I’d ever heard them. Every few seconds I’d remind myself to remember exactly what this felt and looked like, because it seemed so unreal that I might be dreaming it.
Now I think back to that night or look at pictures from the concert, and it’s still amazing to me. I still get goosebumps talking about it. The same reaction happens when I recall surfing for the first time, singing karaoke, running big races, or scoring a great goal. Somewhere in the middle of experiencing each these of things, I have a moment where I don’t believe it. It goes something like this: Surfing? No, that’s not me. Surfers are in movies and magazines, but I can’t surf. But I’m surfing!
Later, I’m left to reconcile the cognitive dissonance of doing something or having something I never considered to be in my realm of possibilities. Some achievements are bigger quandaries than others, but eventually all of them become a part of my identity and get added to my personal repertoire.
Without too much of a stretch of mind, this same principle fits in to relationships for me. Loving, romantic relationships always have that same penumbra about them. I remember before my first kiss how no matter how much I reasoned that I would kiss someone, I didn’t really believe it for myself until it happened. The first time walking down the street holding hands with a guy was, ‘Oh this is how people do this! Okay, I can do this!’
I hope the exclamation points aren’t too cheesy because they’re completely necessary to convey what goes on in my mind. I might be embarrassed to admit it, but I know you all do it to. Coaching kids to do step-overs and pull-throughs and training adults through weight loss and training sessions, I see self-amazement all the time.
We all have these boundaries in our minds that tell us what we can and can’t do and sometimes we don’t even know why they’re there. While their presence is cerebral, I believe the key to breaking through them is tactile. I can talk to this person, because I am talking to this person. I can surf, because I am surfing. I can run this race, because I am running this race. I can have a real relationship, because I am working for and living in this relationship. Even, I can make a difference in the world, because I am in the middle of making a difference in the world.
The challenge is being able to stave off the voices telling you what you aren’t capable of doing long enough to actually do them. The choice is letting hubris take over sensibility for just enough time to prove that your boundaries will move at your will.