Now, as many of you know by reading my blog, I changed my name on The Daily Feels last year. I refused to see myself as an Overthinker. That was only one side of my spirit…the side that looked super hard before I leaped. I would think it through over and over before I agreed. Now, this is still very much a part of my personality, but it’s not always the fun part. The fun part of my personality is the fact that when I make a decision to leap, I do it with full commitment. No matter how tough it gets or how often I fall on my face in the process, giving up is just NOT an option. I will work at whatever my goal is until I master it. This was the part of my personality I wanted to focus on. Why? Well, I think I have an obsession with Grits.
Yep, you heard me right. I LOVE grits. All forms of grits…. The kind you eat, the kind you use to refurbish furniture, and maybe the most important, the kind you use to hit your goals.
For example, I love the saying “grit and bare it”. When running, I am obsessed with that feeling you get when your body and your mind are really being tested. You have to grit and bare the pain to push through to completion. When you do, man, you feel like you just completed the impossible and, you know what, you did!
I also love the term “gritty”. Many people would think this to be a negative trait. Not me. Think about sugar scrubs, or sand paper, or even sand. It’s texture is rough but it’s purpose is the complete opposite. Once you sand away the imperfections, the surface remaining is smooth and shiny. The GRIT is used to create friction, resistance, but only to get to the other side where the lasting results are refined, refreshed, and anew.
Recently, I saw a TED TALK, where the woman was researching what factors make a person more likely to be successful. It wasn’t looks, or IQ, or income, or really anything to do with any environmental condition. The true separation between those that hit their long term goals and those that don’t was grit. She studied cadets at West Point, high school students, athletes, kids in Spelling Bees and the ONLY trait that connected those that met their goals was merely grit. Who wanted it more? Who put in the time to keep growing at their dream? Who was willing to endure pain, struggle, loss, regret, rejection, anything they were facing? Could they endure the pressure? Could they stay focused amidst EVERY challenge that came up? If they could, they were most often victorious. There was no secret genetic makeup that made them more capable. There was no entitlement that carried them to the very end. Again, the ONLY factor that remained constant was grit.
This got my wheels turning. I was on a plane heading home to GA to see family, and felt a tear on my cheek. I wasn’t sure why I would be crying, but I was. I think it hit me. I’d spent my life on a mission…I wanted to help people & I wanted to share their stories with others to give hope to anyone who would listen. You never know why life puts you on the road you are walking, but I promise you there’s a reason. Nothing is an accident. Your perception of your journey is your mission in life. Are you taking the challenges you face and rising above, pulling from within for strength, and gritting your teeth to get past this hurdle and hit your mark? Or did you let that speed bump slow you to a halt? Did you feel that gritty resistance to your dreams and allow the negative self talk to stop you from pushing through where the surface is smoother & refined by the elements? I sat there crying through happy tears because I finally saw myself as the woman I always dreamed I’d be.
I was a tomboy, insecure about my appearance, not sure why life had given me this crazy family, these volatile scenarios time and again. It didn’t match what I felt on the inside. I felt I was worthy of love, worthy of dreaming, and I wanted nothing more in the world than to bring what I felt inside to the surface. But to do so, I would be on a lifelong journey full of resistance, chaos, and dark times. It was scary. It was hard. It was lonely at times. But I refused to accept that the elements of rigidity that KEPT popping up were meant to stop me. I saw each one as a lesson. Perhaps that’s why I became an overthinker. I knew what I was working with. Externally, I was petite, boyish, and soft spoken. But inside, I was fierce, bold, AND kind. I think that’s why I fell in love with writing. I would write poems, tall tales, stories about the small/weak becoming victorious, the underdog winning EVERY time. These words of heroism and triumph from the most unlikely source were the main characters of everything I wrote. It didn’t stop there.
In addition to writing CONSTANTLY, I loved to dream. It was like my mind was an unlimited theatre and every night, I could dream up a new fairytale where the unlikely hero went through the most unbelievable situations BUT ALWAYS either won or grew as a person. I’d jump out of bed, grab a notebook, and write it down asap so I didn’t forget. Poems, love letters I never sent, epic stories spilled out of my head every day. I was a dreamer then, but when I turned 18 and got out into the world, I learned real quick that the victories in life were much more gritty than the ones in my dreams.
However, one gritty situation after another, I felt my inner spirit getting stronger, braver, ready for more. The grit was feeding that dreamer inside and transforming me into a warrior. I was still small on the outside, but that image in the mirror wasn’t really me. That was just the body I was working with. The good stuff, that was all on the inside and it was HUNGRY. I realized if I wanted to succeed at helping people & sharing their stories, my biggest challenge was going to be to get others to look past what they saw on the surface and see what lies underneath.
So, perhaps that’s why I over-analyzed. I knew the physical body I was working with: a petite woman who’d been a victim of rape, domestic violence, auto-immune disease, infertility…all this was beyond my control. Or was it? I decided to stop questioning WHY god gave me this body, this time, these situations. I started focusing on what I could do with it? I could run marathons. I could be a great aunt. Eventually, I was lucky to become a mom. I didn’t HAVE to be a victim. I told myself every day: “My mind is strong. My heart will remain open. I will not let the outside define what I feel inside. I will grit and bare the wear and tear of this surface until the only thing left for the world to see is a refined, polished soul still eager to connect people and help others find that same peace.
Ladies & Gents, this world is a constant state of chaos. If you want an excuse for failure, you don’t have to look far. You can find someone to hate, someone to feed jealousy, something to excuse your lack of effort; but I want to encourage you to dig deep, embrace the gritty times. Understand that grit is a characteristic that separates fruitful lives from aimless ones. Everyone has dreams, but only a few actually chase them. Those that do often times loose limbs, friends, surface things; but what you gain is a sense of purpose, integrity, and maybe most important, you realize how truly capable you are when you keep your eye on the prize.
So, here’s to all my fellow GRITS. May you always be strategically planning your next gritty race. Chase the impossible. Enjoy roughing it through the tough times. Most importantly, learn to love what you have inside of you so much you have no choice than to bring it to the surface and shine onto others. The most beautiful part of you will never be what is on the surface. It will always be what’s deep within BEGGING for a good polish so it can shine through the gritty exterior.
JB McCann has worked in “The Biz” for almost a decade, yet she’s somehow managed to keep her feet firmly on the ground. Her altruistic spirit aims to evoke your Inner Phoenix and encourage readers to take the difficult leaps in life, so you can continue to grow.