The other day I bawled my eyes out watching a college football game on TV.
To be fair, I’m the girl who cries at everything–Zillow commercials, the news, when I see elderly couples holding hands at the mall–but this time was different.
I was watching the USC vs. Western Michigan football game with my husband when a player named Jake Olson took the field to snap the football for an extra point. If you haven’t heard of Jake, you’ll want to look him up. Jake Olson is blind, and at only 12 years old, he completely lost his eyesight (and his eyes) to cancer.
I watched Jake jogging onto the field with his hand on another player’s shoulder for guidance, already feeling the tears welling behind my eyes. As I watched his teammates put him in position for the snap, I found myself holding my breath in that in-between feeling of being scared, excited, and nervous. What was going to happen? Would he accidentally get hurt? Would he be able to do it? What if he messed up?
Jake–calm, cool, and collected–heard the audible signal, snapped the ball, and the ball sailed through the uprights to secure the Trojan’s final point of the game. The stadium went WILD.
My husband held me for about 5 minutes as I blubbered about how inspirational that was, how I was so proud of him (acting like I knew the guy), and how we all could learn something from Jake. I instantly became a total fan girl. In the weeks to follow, I found myself searching his name online to read articles about him and his accomplishments. I would watch videos of interviews and got so excited when I got to watch him on Good Morning America! With every article, interview, or public appearance I see, I learn something really important, but one thing has stuck out to me these past few weeks.
You have no idea what you’re capable of until you fully embrace who you are.
When I first started exploring this idea, I personally found myself coming up against a lot of resistance. I’m human! I’ve messed up! I’ve made so many mistakes! I’m not smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough, or (fill in the blank with whatever I was lacking that day) enough! Maybe once I lose weight or accomplish XYZ, I can fully embrace who I am because I’m somehow worthy.
If you’re putting those prerequisites on yourself, it just means somewhere in your life you’re holding onto a negative story that contributed to a negative belief about yourself. You, just as you are right now, is enough. To fully embrace who you are, you don’t need to change a single thing about yourself except your self-image.
As tall women, we have been given a gift that sometimes other people don’t understand. Your body is beautiful, but it’s different! Sometimes people just don’t get that, but that doesn’t mean you need to let them affect you.
“Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen.” – Epictetus
“Things that happen” could be a rude remark from a stranger.
It could be a whisper or a snicker about your height.
It could be a memory of a bully from your youth.
It’s these “things that happen” that we attach negative opinions to that stay with us. We decide not to embrace the beauty we all have within us and instead, choose to carry these fears, doubts, and insecurities with us wherever we go.
Think about this for me. If Jake at the youthful age of 12 had decided not to embrace who he was, if he thought that losing his eyes made him less than, he wouldn’t have continued to grow his love for football. He never would have played for his high school team, gotten a scholarship to play in college, or stepped onto that field.
The world would have lost his courageous story.
But more than that, Jake wouldn’t have written his book, “Open Your Eyes: 10 Common Lessons to Discover a Happier Life”. Other individuals across the world who are blind wouldn’t have Jake’s story to inspire them to push beyond their comfort zones. People like me wouldn’t have been moved to find gratitude and joy in the little things.
It was all because Jake decided to embrace who he is that he’s creating this great life for himself.
And now it’s your turn. What will you accomplish when you fully embrace who you are?