Did you know the main image on this site was taken four years ago? The tell-sign is probably my hair cut. Hopefully you all realized that…LOL! If you didn’t, you might’ve thought I put in really long (and long-term) extensions. Whatever the case, I just set the record straight and I share because I just looked at it and asked myself if I would update it.
I won’t change it.
I made the decision to keep it because I remember who I was at that time and, WOW, what an inspiration. The person in that photo overcame a rough couple years leading up to that point; let go of past trauma; chose a positive mindset; and gave no excuses when working toward the GOAL. That woman was young, but fierce and she did a lot of the work to create this space. At the time that photo was taken, I was right in the thick of an equally challenging and exciting time driven by passion. Eventually, life took some unexpected turns and I went down a path I didn’t realize was even an option.
Let me explain.
I was competing as a physique competitor in the NPC Bikini Division and was a week(ish) out from the 2015 NPC Universe National Qualifier in New Jersey. I was physically and mentally tired, having competed in three shows leading up to that National show. The long and short of it is, I should’ve bowed out and taken a break. I opted not to and suffered consequences for that, as we do with all decisions. Four years later, my life looks significantly different and I now realize, the consequences I faced forced me to look myself in the mirror and ask myself hard questions.
Anyone else put off those difficult chats with yourself?
The hard questions aren’t really hard, by the way. The questions are just just opportunities for us to check in with ourselves and own up to where we fall short. That used to be hard for me because I wasn’t feeling good about stuff I was settling for, but wasn’t ready to actually admit I was settling.
How was I settling?
Competing helped me feel like I had purpose and passion, even though I was working in a job/role I definitely wasn’t passionate about and actually really disliked. If you walk away with ONE thing from this post, please remember this: FEELINGS ARE TEMPORARY. When my health began to decline, I lost my sense of self and questioned who I was. It was so hard to see the good in myself, so I criticized myself (which was a waste of time because it was far from constructive) and picked up other unhealthy habits. I compared Erika, “The Sick Girl” with Erika, “The Bikini Competitor.” What a stupid mistake.
Why would you put yourself down?
Serious question, friends. Why in the world would you allow yourself to not be nice to yourself? There are so many people around the world who already live in a forever-state of doubt; project their negativity onto others; project their anxiety and fears onto others; and simply don’t bring anything positive to the table. It’s funny to me because people will rename their fears and use words like “concern.” I love that one because it implies the person cares for you. The thing I’ve learned (and can also admit to!) is, the fear that showed up came from a place of fear in their own life, NOT from a place of caring for you. Guess what? You’re allowed to believe in yourself when others don’t believe in themselves.
“I’m just being realistic.”
I love that one. Sometimes, the positive people say it after a negative comment. LOL. Well, word ninjas, I’m blocking your little backhand compliments.
Wait a minute…
Yea, in case you didn’t catch that…I just implied that you, too, bring negativity to the lives of others whenever you share your doubt and fear and anxiety. Ever heard or read someone say, “issa vibe”? IT IS. What you share with others is typically shared with you, in return. The same goes for those who influence you; they’re sharing their vibe with you. Don’t you think you’re going to go and share that with someone else?
Here’s why I really needed to come on here and write tonight.
I started a business and it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I feel the same passion I felt four years ago, IF NOT MORE. It has to be more. I get so much energy from all the work I do for it and on it. This is the first time I pursue something so much bigger than me and I delayed for so long because of fear. After getting diagnosed with cancer, I promised myself I wouldn’t wallow in my woes. I promised myself I would make my dreams come true and stop stalling. I got a little distracted and tried to avoid it by pursuing other career opportunities, but all those doors closed in my face. Every single move I made led me to where I am today and, today, I was presented with a choice. I won’t get into it, but it wasn’t a hard choice for me.
You ever just know, with all your being, something is for you?
Decisions need to be made and, tomorrow, I will make one. There are other (private) elements to this, which complicate things a little more and actually make this “not-so-hard” decision, HARD. To be frank, my confidence (in my decision) isn’t enough to silence the fear that made its way to the decision table. Whatever comes of tomorrow’s decision, I’m at peace and ready for the consequences.
“What’s meant to be will always find its way.”
It took me a while to get here, but I’m here. If it takes me a little longer to get somewhere, I’ll get there a little later. I know who I am and what I can do. I see it and it is so exciting because, while I probably could’ve started doing all this a few years ago, I wasn’t who I am today and I don’t think I would’ve had the courage I have right now to take on such big dreams. I pray you also honor and give yourself kudos for the work you’ve done to get to where you are. If you aren’t satisfied, simply make a different decision. Sure, it may mean sacrifices need to be made, but if you weigh the risk vs the reward, you’ll learn the truth about what the “right thing” is for you. What you to do with that revelation will lead to it’s own, unique consequences, regardless of the decision. I pray you have the strength and perseverance to run the race you need to run to get where you need to go.
“The best things in life are on the other side of fear.”
Ever heard of Will Smith? Yea, he’s awesome. I watched this today (click the red print) and thought his description of the skydiving experience was ON POINT. Castro and I went skydiving in 2011 and I remember feeling so at peace on the way down, despite living with a crippling fear of heights all my life. That’s where I’m at; on the way down, smiling because I finally see the bigger picture.
Thanks for hanging with me.
This was a lot, but it really helped me process what I was experiencing. I look forward to the day when I reread this with pride; when I reminisce on the memory of tomorrow’s mystery decision. I promise to share the good news when it gets here! I hope my experience today helped you, at least, identify a need to check-in with yourself. I try to do it daily because it brings me peace. I hope it does that and more for you.
For daily posts, thoughts and visuals from me:
– head over to my instagram @eesleetah and make sure you turn on post notifications!
– follow us on @castrostrong_ and visit our website, while you’re there!
Have a great week, everyone! God bless!