Perseverance is a great quality to have. I even list it on my resume as a transferrable skill - relevant to any position and task. The ability to navigate rocky waters, creatively solve problems, keep your chin up, and push from point A to point B - these are all characteristics of a person who will go far.
I have, however, had to face a harsh reality lately, that there exists a too far. When I started to recognize that both my physical and my mental health had been failing, I had to admit that while I was somehow still capable of succeeding in these extreme conditions, I had completely lost my balance. As much as I would like to think that I am invincible (because hey, look at how much I have overcome!), there, in my health, existed evidence that I absolutely am not.
It was a boundary that I had skewed through years of high stress and great expectations. Each time I was reaching further and further past what was healthy for me to maintain. Expectations for myself and those from other people - bosses, friends, family members, and even strangers - were becoming greater and even more far reaching. The more I managed to achieve, the more became expected of me. The status quo was a moving target. Resetting those boundary lines, especially with those close to you, is a very challenging exercise, especially for someone who is built to help and satisfy others.
That very fine balance between what I am ultimately capable of and what is healthy for me to achieve and to be; where I draw the line of that boundary, that is what I consider grace.
Grace is a practice. It is a sort of softness in confidence, and it is a form of resiliency. I have always said that my ambition is so much bigger than me (and especially bigger than my lungs when I am out on the trails). While I practice believing confidently in my ability to achieve, I am also self-respecting, forgiving, and willing to concede a good fight when I know that it is the right time to let go.
"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Buddha
Grace is that sweet spot between being ambitious, motivated, and having the drive to get up every day and achieve exactly what I set my mind and heart to, but also knowing that somewhere along the way, it is possible that I may encounter something even better than I had planned for - and it is okay to be just as satisfied with the alternative.
Grace is being afraid and still feeling confident anyway, knowing that there is always a possibility to fail. It is knowing that failing is likely to gain me as much as, if not more than I would have in succeeding.
Grace is allowing myself to be completely enveloped in a consuming emotion - extreme delight, fury, reckless abandon, or deep disappointment - and still being able to recognize and appreciate the little things and the intricacies.
Grace is wanting, with every bone in my body, to achieve a summit despite my inadequate lungs and tired legs, and knowing when to call it a day because there's a storm brewing, or because I know my limits well enough to know that I won't have the energy to return safely.
Grace is moving slowly and consciously through a yoga practice, from asana to asana, one foot firmly on the ground before the other, making for a smooth transition that feels almost effortless in its ease. A give and take. A clear understanding of rise and fall. A conscious surrender.
I like to think about grace as being like "the magic hour". If you are a photographer, you will surely know what I'm talking about. The witching hour. Twilight. That sweet, perfect balance between day and night or night and day when the sun is faded, but somehow everything appears as if it is glowing from within.
"Be that girl who wakes up with purpose and intent. Be that girl who shows up and never gives up. Be that girl who believes anything is possible and is willing to work for it."
I will give as good a fight as anyone, especially for something that I passionately want, but I try to avoid relentlessness since learning my lesson. There is a lot to be said for working hard for the things that you desire, but sometimes you just have to sit back and let what you desire come to you. Grace is knowing when you are spinning your wheels, and when it is time to slow down.
So sure, be the girl who wakes up feeling purposeful. Be the girl who shows up, and be the girl who believes that anything is possible if you work for it. But if I could change one thing about the above quote, it would be to remove the part about never giving up. Because sometimes, knowing when to give up for better or just cause is just as, if not more difficult than giving up. Sometimes it shows even more or greater strength to know when to give up than to not.
"Once you stop chasing the wrong things, the right ones will catch you."
Not everyone is made for everything, nor everything made for everyone. That doesn't mean we aren't all capable, just that we may need to go about doing things in a different way from someone else, and that is okay. Some people flourish in a 40-hour-a-week desk job, and that is how they make a living. Some of us just can't sit still. And that's okay too! I can understand the intention behind hustling and grinding. I do believe in hard work. But I also believe it only gets you so far and it often results in burn-out, which is, in essence, an imbalance.
I choose to wake up to curiosity. I choose to acknowledge drive, intention, a desire to grow, pursue, push past, gain, learn, and most importantly to adventure. I will not stand still and pacify a single purpose. There is so much beyond to experience and to discover, and that is where my ambition and motivation lies. Often it is scary to try new things, but what a beautiful thing it is to discover that something new is so rewarding, and that one thing may open another or three more doors to others.
"Wherever life plants you, grow with grace."
Photos are my own. Please do not use or reproduce without my written permission.