I'm a perfectionist. If you were to look around the room where I'm currently sitting, you would never believe this could be true. The couch cushions are not lined up right, there are shoes all around the coffee table, and I've just counted five different empty drinking glasses that have yet to make it to the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. That is because I am the worst kind of perfectionist. I am the kind of perfectionist that is always waiting for the perfect time and reason to do something. If I can't do it perfectly, at the perfect time, then I don't like doing it at all. I know what you're thinking. "Katee, there is never a perfect time to do things!" And you are correct. Which is why for many years, I sat waiting for the perfect time to start my perfect life.
I'll clean the house when I have a full day to commit to it. I'll go on that vacation after I've lost 20 pounds. I'll tell that person how I feel about them when the timing is right. I'll start working out and get in shape when I feel like I am ready to put in the work and dedication that is required.
I loved to plan and dream about what I wanted for my life, but ultimately I just spent a lot of time waiting for a perfect time or day that would never come. Then one day, after receiving a call about yet another "crisis" that was happening, I actually said out loud, "There's always going to be something happening. It's never going to stop." It was like a light bulb went off in my head. After dealing with what was my initial pity party over the fact that my life was never going to line up with my perfect vision, I felt this sort of peace come over me. The realization that life was passing me by and that these perfect moments will never exist was FINALLY getting through my thick skull. Instead of freaking out about it, I felt motivated. I no longer had to be a slave to perfectionism because it was never going to happen. And since it was never going to happen, I could stop worrying about it. Just like when I was a child, and I finally stopped worrying about going down the drain in the bathtub. (Thanks, Mister Rogers!) It was shortly after my epiphany of obvious, but still epic, proportions, that I decided to start trying things before I was technically "ready." Fast forward to the summer of 2015. I was tweeting (as I'm often doing) that I was looking to shake up my (non-existent) workout routine. To this day, I am so grateful that someone took five seconds out of their day to tweet at me about Iron Tribe Fitness. I decided to check it out, even while everything inside of me was screaming things like "You can't do this. It's WAY over your head. This isn't the right time. You have too much going on to commit to this. Did you forget how much you loathe working out in front of other people? You are going to look stupid. This is for athletes. You aren't an athlete. People are going to laugh at you."
As someone who has struggled with anxiety since childhood, the thought of looking like an idiot in front of strangers was terrifying. You know how they say to go with your gut? Well, when you deal with anxious thoughts, you can't always trust your gut. My gut was saying "DO NOT DO THIS! DO NOT TRY IT!" But I decided to ignore every terrifying thought and sign up anyway. I know people do courageous and amazing things every day, and this might seem ridiculously inconsequential in comparison, but in my world, it was huge. I remember the owner of Iron Tribe East Memphis, John Irvine, telling me "This is going to change your life." I also remember thinking "Yeah, okay, easy for you to say, Mr. Extremely Fit Guy. We'll see." Well, it turned out that Mr. Extremely Fit Guy couldn't have been more right.
Iron Tribe has changed my life in every way. In the beginning, as I drove to the classes I was dreading, I'd start talking to myself. "Don't be a wuss. Suck it up. Just walk through the door." We read and hear all these things about facing our fears and not letting fear stop us. What I feel like they often fail to mention is how unbelievably scary and unnatural it can feel to do something you are genuinely afraid of doing. It doesn't feel right. It feels uncomfortable in just about every way. When I am facing one of my fears head on, I feel like I'm going to puke. I don't feel brave; I feel terrified. I don't feel strong; I feel vulnerable. I don't feel safe; I feel exposed. Many times, it's not until I push through all of those feelings of dread and all of those uncomfortable emotions, that I truly see why it was all worth it. You have to put a certain amount of faith in yourself. You have to trust that even though your mind (and sometimes body) is screaming for you to turn back, you will eventually reach the other side. If we all felt like Wonder Woman or Superman the second we made the decision to face one of our fears, most of us would be living our dreams by now. But most of us aren't living our dreams. Most people are letting fear run their lives. And after I've just explained how terribly awful facing our fears can feel, who can blame anyone who decides that letting fear win is the better choice? But I am proof that facing your fears and living outside of your comfort zone can bring you more joy and excitement than you ever thought possible. Is my life perfect? Of course not. Do I still wrestle with my fears? Every damn day. But one thing I've learned while trying to face my fears is that I rarely look back with regret anymore. Sometimes I realize things aren't the way I thought they were going to be. But I rarely regret standing up to fear. And regret used to weigh on me like an anchor. Regret kept me living in the past.
I think deep down most of us know who we really are and what kind of lives we want to be living, but we've let fear move in and take over, and now it's keeping those revelations on lock down. I believe that each time we face one of our fears, no matter how small, it brings us closer to living lives full of purpose and contentment. And that means different things to different people. I will never be perfect and neither will you. And that's okay. I am about to face one of my fears right now. Yes, I feel nervous, but I'm going to do it in spite of that. I am posting some pictures I never thought I'd let see the light of day. Below are some pictures of me from summer 2015, shortly before I joined Iron Tribe, and some I had taken at a photo shoot just a few weeks ago. My perfectionism tried to creep back in and tell me I shouldn't post pictures yet because I've still got a long way to go. But I know I'm never going to feel ready. The perfect time will never come. And just so you know, I've never done anything like this. But hey, I have to practice what I preach, right? Time to take the leap.
I will never be "skinny" and for the first time in my life, I'm okay with that. I'd rather be strong than skinny. I'd rather embrace my curves and work with what I have instead of wishing I was someone else. I feel good in my own skin. Fear of what others think of me no longer rules my life. I can't promise you that facing and fighting through your fears will always give you the outcome you want, but I can promise you that it'll never be boring. A life spent facing your fears will be an adventure. You can go to sleep at night knowing you are going for it, even if you don't quite know what "it" is yet. You'll figure it out. And once you do, you'll be able to help others do the same. Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. I believe in you. If I can do it, anyone can. Start by loving yourself where you are right now, and that will lead you in the right direction. And then get ready to not feel ready. Are you scared yet? Good. Now your adventure can begin. Mine is still just getting started and I'm scared as hell. We'll be scared together. Don't wait until January to make changes. The difference between truly living and merely existing lies one step outside of your comfort zone. Take that first step.