Last Saturday during the competition I was standing behind a woman with a tattoo of a quote on her shoulder. I couldn’t see the whole thing because it was cut off by her tank. She was watching and cheering on a friend so I din’t want to interrupt to ask.
All I could see (well, remember) was “Just a story” and “figure out who you’re going to be.”
I did a little research online to see if I could find it but all I kept getting was variations of this:
And although I love that quote it wasn’t what I found so powerful in that woman’s tattoo.
I kept searching.
That’s when I discovered this:
Ahh, Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club (one of my favorite movies.) Now I had a name so I did some more digging and figured out the quote is from the book Invisible Monsters .
I really wanted to know the context of this quote. So I bought the Kindle version of Invisible Monsters. I searched for the quote and pulled out the dialogue from the character who said it. Here’s the full text:
You can’t base your life on the past or the present. You have to tell me about your future. Now, you are going to tell me your story like you just did. Write it all down. Tell that story over and over. Tell me your sad-assed story all night. When you understand that what you’re telling is just a story. It isn’t happening anymore. When you realize the story you’re telling is just words, when you can just crumble it up and throw your past in the trashcan then we’ll figure out who you’re going to be.
How powerful is that?
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m still a person who lets my past define my future. I hold on to the things people have told me and let my self-definition dictate who I think I am or what I think I can do.
Am I a runner?
In the past 6 years I’ve run countless 5ks (at least 25), 5 half marathons, a full marathon and 7 Tough Mudders and I STILL have a hard time calling myself a runner.
Because someone told me once I couldn’t run? I used to think runners were crazy? I’m not fast? It didn’t come natural to me? I started too late?
Hitting the pavement or traversing a new trail is one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning.
I am a runner.
Am I an athlete?
I’ve been consistently weight training for 3 years, CrossFitting for almost 2, and have competed in 4 competitions, yet I still feel really uncomfortable defining myself as an athlete.
Because I hated gym class? Was never good at sports? Started too late? Don’t want people to think I’m crazy?
All I dream about now is making it to the CrossFit regionals as a Master in the next few years.
I am an athlete.
Taking this in a slightly different direction, I’m writing this right now yet I shudder when someone calls me a writer, even though I’m currently publishing a book!
Speaking of, I was having a conversation with The Husband about the book and I told him I felt like it will finally legitimize what I’ve been doing all these years with my business. He looked me square in the face and said, “Umm, I’m pretty sure the conference did that 5 years ago. You do know you are the reason 300 people get together once a year.”
I am in a constant game of tug-o-war with who I was and who I want to be.
The story I tell myself is that I’m a chunky, awkward girl who isn’t particularly smart or talented. I’m definitely not a writer. Sure, I’m kind of good at a few things (I can kind of cook, kind of take pictures, kind of build web sites, kind of design) but not good enough to find real success. I’m definitely NOT an athlete. I couldn’t even make my high school softball team for Pete’s sake! Nope, I’m just a poor girl from a broken home who doesn’t really deserve much out of life.
OK, Now I’m crying. That came from a really deep place. For whatever reason I have a hard time throwing away my past. I want to speak and share my ideas without doubting myself or my abilities or worrying about what anyone else thinks. I want to be a successful author. I want to be a competitive athlete. I deserve to be those things.
I’m tired of feeling like an impostor.
I’m throwing my old story away.
I know who I want to be.
Well, this took a much deeper turn than I thought it would. That quote really struck a chord with me because I can see it in myself and I bet if you dig a little you’ll see it, too. Everyone lets their past define their future in some way, but what if you did throw your past in the trashcan? What could you be?