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Courage Despite My Inner Critic

Ms. Ego – My Inner Critic

Why must we fight with ourselves to live the life we want to live?  Even after facing the criticisms and the “I told ya so” judgment of others, we must still stand eye to eye with our inner critic and muster enough courage to move on by.  My inner critic, or Ms. Ego as I think of her, comes off as a real b*tch most days.  Like most inner critics, she expects to get her way.  After all, my historical response to her demands has been “Yes, ma’am” with my head hung in defeat.  However the older I get, the more I call the shots, because I don’t want to just survive on the sidelines.  I want to experience LIFE, and I’m pretty sure she hates that.

A Sprint Triathlon – WHAT?!

This desire to stretch myself inspired me to try something WAY outside my comfort zone this year – a sprint triathlon.  As you can imagine, Ms. Ego squawked loudly against this tomfoolery.  After all, I have never been the athletic type.  I have horrible hand-eye coordination and a self-conscious streak a mile long.  I horseback ride, but the horse does most of the work.  Despite this, I persisted in showing Ms. Ego the bird and paid my entry fee.  I was ready to dare new experiences.  Right?  Right.  I hope so…

So, that is how I found myself in a crowd of few hundred athletes, setting up my transition area on an early Sunday morning.  After getting my racing number and age calf “tattoos”, I slipped (well…more like yanked, hopped and wiggled) on my rented wet-suit, gave my boys a hug, and wadded into the water.

Woman swimmer with two sons
Race Day – My Boys and Me

Victory at the Finish Line

Two and a half hours later, with trembling legs and chest heaving, I met my boys and we crossed the finish line.  Hell yea!!!  Woohoo!!! Fist pump!!! I barely registered the crowd cheering or the announcer saying my name.  Instead, I soaked up the hugs of my family.  My two-year-old’s “YEA MOMMY!!” and victory dance was the best praise in the world.

“But…” says Ms. Ego

But then, in the midst of this beautiful moment, Ms. Ego decides to infiltrate my thoughts.  “Congratulations, you managed not to kill yourself.  But come on, you were embarrassingly slow.  You don’t belong here and everyone knows it.”  OUCH, that hurt.  Especially since she was technically accurate, I was really slow and my race was far from perfect.

Within the first 50 meters of the swim, a panic attack seized me.  I flagged down a rescue canoe and clung to its side in an effort to gain control.  Although I set out again, I never breathed easy.  I backstroked a zig-zag pattern, and was the last person in my “relaxed swim” wave to reach shore.  Next, I pulled my bike over after a couple miles to puke (my nerves from the swim catching up to me).  I waived a feeble “I’m ok” gesture to the athletes passing me by as I squatted in the gravel (small mercies, I didn’t actually vomit). Finally, I walked over 1.5 miles because I was terrified too much jostling would release my over full bladder (I know at least other mothers will have some sympathy here – 2 kids and there is so little control!).

I guess I won’t be so stupid to try something this crazy again. Right?…

Ms. Ego Is Wrong

Hell no, NOT RIGHT Ms Ego.  I did belong there.  Despite being embarrassingly slow, I swam 750 meters, biked 12.4 miles and ran (ok, mostly walked) 3.1 miles, and crossed the finish line.

Woman runner at finish line
The Finish Line

Obviously, Ms. Ego doesn’t appreciate me stretching so far beyond the established comfort zone.  After all, her key responsibility is my survival which is why she constantly tries to maintain the status quo.  Survival over happiness is her motto, and for so long I’ve let her be in control.  Afraid to take chances.  Afraid of embarrassing myself.  Afraid to fail.

No More ‘Survival Over Happiness’

Thankfully, my self-discovery journey helps me realize a truth beyond my inner critic’s whispers.  I’m 35 and tired of being afraid.  I don’t want to just survive.  I want to LIVE with joy, passion and daring.  I pray I find a little more courage to step out and forward each day.

Anyone with me?



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