On Falling Short

Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Several times a week, I wake early and tiptoe downstairs. I lace up my sneakers, stretch out my legs, and I run.

I don’t run particularly fast or for long distances, but in my head, I am a runner.  I feel strong and balanced. I feel healthy and liberated. I feel like am the runner that I want to be.

But every so often, I will have one of those runs when I am painfully aware that the vision that I have of myself as a runner is very, very different than reality. I am clumsy and sore. I am slow and breathless. I am tired and disgruntled. And I am reminded that my current reality is falling short of my aspirations.

Photo Credit: whinelessbreathemore.com

Just like I aspire to be a runner every time I lace up my sneakers, I have visions and aspirations of the person that I want to be. I want to be a fun and easygoing wife, a patient and playful parent, an attentive and reliable friend. I want to be a respectful and considerate daughter, an encouraging and understanding sister, a helpful and friendly neighbor. I want to be a diligent and conscientious worker, a truthful and daring writer, a confident and graceful woman.

I want to be these things. I try to be these things. But the truth is that many times I fall short and I miss the mark.

Despite my intentions and hopes and desires to be this person and embody these traits, there are times when I, quite simply, am not. There are times when I am clearly not fun or patient or reliable. There are times when I am not as respectful as I could be, not as understanding as I would like to be, and not as helpful as I should be. There are times when my work is sloppy, my writing is timid, and my spirit is desperately insecure.

This falling short and failing to live up to my own expectations can feel like a double blow in some respects. Not only have I let down myself and someone else, possibly damaging a relationship in the falling short, but I am reminded again that I am not the person that I want to be. And I am left to reconcile the person that I want to be with the person that I actually am.

But the person that I want to be is also humble, forgiving, and self-aware. The person that I want to be is brave enough to admit mistakes, graceful enough to apologize, and compassionate enough to show myself a little mercy.

Maybe these times when we fall short of our own expectations don’t necessarily have to be shortcomings. Maybe there can be courage in admitting our mistakes and strength in acknowledging our inherent human flaws. Maybe we can create connection by acknowledging that missteps are part of the human experience. Maybe we can move closer to becoming the person we want to be by embracing our exquisitely imperfect nature.

So I am trying to be brutally self-aware and quick to apologize. I am trying to accept my flaws and mistakes, with mercy and compassion. I am trying to let go of regrets and eliminate shame. I am placing a higher premium on kindness and meaningful connections. And I am looking beyond myself as I strive to be better and do better.

So that maybe, just maybe, there can be grace in the falling short.

Do you ever feel like you are falling short? How do you reconcile the person you want to be with the person that you are? How do you move closer toward becoming the person that you want to be?


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