Faking it.

I often feel like kind of a fraud, an outsider that’s going to be found out, not quite as legit or “in the club” as everyone else. I practiced yoga for a decade before considering myself a “yogi,” managed a cutting-edge energy policy but never considered myself a sustainability expert, and I thought for sure people could tell I was faking it when I decided to take up running.

The community in Boulder, Colorado is extremely active; in fact, this is where professional runners choose to live and train. So when I started hitting the trails, I felt self-conscious about my form, my gear, my frequent walking breaks. I had never run for sport before, and thought it was clear that I wasn't a real runner; obviously the other runners belonged there more than me. And then I found this quote by John Bingham, a marathon runner and author:

If you run, then you’re a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.

Wow. This hit me. Simply by doing the thing, no matter how well or how often or how well-equipped, you become a person who does the thing! I know it sounds so obvious. But the quote stuck with me and I’ve come back to this principle during the many other times I've felt like a fake...

During the first month of my “big trip” through Europe, I met a very sweet Swedish guy at a pub in Dublin. As we chatted and I told him my story (quit my job, sold my house, bought a one-way ticket...), he looked at me in amazement. He asked how I found the courage to do all that?! I’d told the story enough times that it’d become somewhat mechanical, and I didn’t see these leaps as such a big deal. Thus, I found myself correcting his impression of me: No, I said, I’m not really the kind of person that would do all these things… I just so happened to… do them. Huh.

If you run, then you’re a runner.

As I continued my journey through Europe, I arrived in airports and train stations with my big backpack strapped to my back and, once again, felt my cover wearing thin: I’m not a real “traveler,” I have no idea what I’m doing out here, and everyone can tell I’m a newbie! I navigated foreign cities, stayed in hostels, packed and repacked and repacked and repacked my backpack, and yet still didn’t think I was “the kind of person” to backpack Europe. As if I was doing it wrong, that this trip didn't really count. Finally by the very end of the trip, after 3 months and 9 countries, I remembered…

If you run, then you’re a runner.

And now, as I hold a certification to teach yoga, lead 2-4 classes per week, and have even lived and worked at a wellness retreat, I sometimes feel like I’m “not a real yoga teacher.” I might not be the wisest sage, or an expert in anatomy, or even be able to stand on my head, but I do, in fact, teach yoga.

If you run, then you’re a runner.

Self-identity is a funny thing. I used to catch myself constantly saying "I'm not that kind of person," or feeling like I wasn't part of the club when trying something new. I held back and avoided places where I felt like I didn't belong, as if everyone else there had gotten some special VIP invitation. Here's the thing: There is no club to join, no VIP invitations. We make our own rules, our own identity, and it can be whatever we want! Of course we can always keep improving on our skills and experience, but simply by doing the thing, you are a person who does the thing. You are just as "real" and legit as everyone else who does it. You are not a poser; nobody is going to pull back the curtain to expose you. You deserve to be there, wherever "there" is for you. And everyone else, they started just by trying it once, too.

I’ve found this principle to be good motivation when flipped in reverse, too. When I arrived back in Brooklyn a year ago, I sat in a café with my sister and said to her: I want to be a girl who bikes everywhere and does yoga and has tattoos. Verbatim. It wasn't about the labels, that was the image I had in my mind of the “cool” and healthy chick I wanted to be. It was a chick I once thought I could never be; I couldn't pull it off. My sister's reply at the time was actually, "you are that girl," but I wasn't convinced. My “runner” mantra not only helped me realize that this was true, as in the previous examples, but it helped me perpetuate the lifestyle I wanted to create for myself. It reminded me that in order to be that person, I have to do the things that person does. I have to actually get on my bike. I have to make time for yoga. And, well, I’d love to use this as an excuse to get another tattoo…

At first I felt like I didn't fit in biking around Brooklyn. My bike wasn’t super hip and I didn’t know the etiquette and everyone else just seemed so effortless out there. But I got on my bike, every day. I mapped out my common routes, and got comfortable with them. Then I started branching out. For a while I thought I wasn’t “the kind of person” to bike into Manhattan, and then one day I crossed the bridge. One year later, it's evident even to me, I am a girl who bikes everywhere, does yoga, and has tattoos.

This simple concept has become like my life mantra. Anytime I catch myself thinking, "I'm just not that kind of person," I remind myself that all I have to do to be that person, is do the thing that person does. It's really simple. The only thing holding me back is me, and the limits I assume for myself. I can be whatever kind of person I want to be. And in simply trying something, I become a person who does it; the trying is the doing. Why do we say we'll "try?" Just do.

So what’s the thing you always wish you were “the kind of person” to do? What if you stop telling yourself you’re not that kind of person, and just do the thing? Share in the comments below!

Feel like you could use a little nudge, a little burst of confidence and courage to get out there? Hit me up for a 30-minute coaching call and we'll get you moving :)