My name is Lauren and I am a sustainability, health and wellness advocate who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nutrition, fitness, yoga, and meditation are more than just a passion of mine – they are my lifestyle. And while this lifestyle sounds intriguing, boasting healthfulness and the promise of positivity, it can also be filled with an intense drive for competition and over performance which sometimes can lead to inner dialogs of “I am not good enough.”
I was always a driven kid. I remember at the age of 9 thinking how beautiful of a gift it was to have a body and a brain that afforded us the power to do anything we could think of. I made a promise to myself that I would hone my mind and body to the best of my abilities. One year later my quest for achievement and performance started to truly grow as I taught myself how to play soccer. I watched this desire for challenge, to learn, take different shapes over the years throughout grade school, high school, college, even as a professional. Like a soap bubble floating through the air – I continued to expand my skillset and hone my abilities in sports, academia, intellect, even in the spiritual dimension.
Every minute of every day was filled with “work.” In December 2013, my mother passed away. I suddenly became aware of my mortality; I withdrew from life, living in my head questioning past decisions, my “purpose”, and my plan for the future. At first I could not even stomach the idea of going to the gym or my job without knowing what my “purpose” was. The things I thought defined me as a person no longer seemed to make sense. I continued to practice yoga as it was the only place I felt safe and where everything in life seemed perfect.
Six months after my mother passed I had a colleague at work share with me his wife’s experiences in bodybuilding. The dedication, the mindfulness in training and nutrition, the act of competition. These were all very familiar themes for me and felt wildly comforting to think about after having no drive for life for the first half of 2014. In that moment, I felt compelled to know more. With eyes wide open, no expectations and with no real knowledge, I reached out to Heather. Soon after our first email transaction I was back in the gym and trusting a process that I knew nothing about. Intuitively I knew that if I just showed up and did the work that it would all work out in the end. There were many days I didn’t feel that way, I thought I’d lost myself, that I was grasping at straws, but there was still a bit of calm even within those infinitesimal moments of time.
I was fortunate enough to have two successful shows where I took first in all categories I competed in. Yet, there was still an unfulfilled feeling, a lack of self-celebration. A few weeks after my second show I was practicing yoga, when one of my teachers said something that felt like I was hearing for the first time: “You are enough.” Those words landed on me like a hammer but what was released from the impact was tension; tension that’s had a grip on me my whole life. Finally, after 6 years of practicing yoga, I started to become highly aware of my life and the increase of challenging journeys I’ve donned. I could start to see how I fooled myself at times to think that I was moving in flow with life and that I was not “trying” to achieve anything. I started to see that over the years I didn’t think I was ever enough and that I was never satisfied with what I achieved making the desire to reach a state of self-love unachievable.
I AM. Enough.
I am enough, right where I am, with nothing to prove. This was a game changer. Learning to trust and love myself exactly where I am has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done and also the most rewarding. It trumps any soccer scholarship, any degree, and any competition won. I now look at my aspirations in a new light, as a way to expand my experience rather than another unfulfilling notch under my belt to fill my ego. Since competing I’ve made major shifts in my life to find a balance of self-acceptance without the need to achieve. If I choose to compete again, I know that I will be doing so with the right mindset, one that will allow me to accept and honor myself regardless of the outcome.