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Cycling champion Bradley Wiggins said the hardest thing about going for a ride is putting your socks on.
Each day, we open our eyes, swing our legs out of bed, our feet hit the cold morning floor, and we have a choice: cycle socks on (insert alternative foot covering of choice here, be it running socks, yogi toes, dive flippers) or start the day without committing to the thing that makes us feel grounded, happy, calm, whole.
When described as such, it seems a simple choice, but we have all experienced this resistance to doing the one thing we know will make our day go better.
Six weeks ago, I set myself the task of starting to write—writing for myself, for pleasure, for others, so I could expand my skill set, see the world through different eyes, maybe be published one day. Six weeks on, I’m still finding it hard to “put my (writing) socks on.”
Many years ago, I learnt the value of morning pages—the practice of getting out of bed and writing three pages of text. A good day may become a seed of an idea, a story, an article, a “bad” day just a stream of “I am writing, I am here, and I am writing…” until the three pages thankfully come to an end. But somehow, despite their value, I don’t manage to get as far as picking up the pen most days.
This practice, or, more accurately, this lack of practice, has led to some real soul-searching.
Writing is something I would love to do more of. I devoured books as a child, often staying up until one, two, or three o‘clock in the morning just so I could get to the next page, chapter, the end. I always saw writing in my future, but intense shyness stopped me—along with another thought that has plagued me my whole life: “If I don’t try, I can’t fail.”
Trying, for me, has become the embodiment of vulnerability. When we try, we say, “I care.” When we try, we say, “This is important to me.” When we try, we leave ourselves open to the possibility that someone might say, “This isn’t good enough.”
So, I am ashamed to say I have spent a life not trying very hard. The idea of “failing” is something so utterly repellent to me that I would rather stay safe in my house and watch life from behind a window. I would go as far as to say that I often don’t experience life just because I don’t want people to know how deeply I care. And then I see those words written down in print and I think, “What an utter waste.”
This doesn’t undermine how proud I am of the things I have achieved—and, amazingly, I have managed many wonderful things as a yoga teacher trainer, as a mother, as a friend and wife. But when I really look back at the details, I see how passive I was in achieving my goals.
And so began the #putyoursockson challenge. The challenge is to do it even if we don’t want to—to push ourselves so that we move toward and perhaps even beyond our comfort zones, to inhabit the magical place where we grow and learn and things happen just because we want them to.
But beyond that, I realise this is also my way of saying “enough.” I am ready to be the driver of my own bus; I’m tired of being a passenger and I’m tired of my own excuses. As I tout this idea to those around me, I realise that many of us could benefit from the same nudge. Putting your socks on doesn’t have to mean achieving something spectacular; it means saying no to our own excuses and still going for that run, even if you can only manage 100 meters (I promise, these 100 meters will soon become 1000, and so on). It means facing the things that fill us with dread and realising they aren’t that bad when you Just. Get. On. With. Them.
If my articles are crap, or if no one reads them—or even if the unthinkable happens and someone says they are awful—it doesn’t really matter.
I can only get better through trying. I can only create real connection through vulnerability. I can only find my voice by using it.
Please join me in #putyoursockson—and let me know how you goes.
Pattabhi Jois famously said, “Practice and all is coming.”
Here it comes. My practice.