I grew up in Illinois as child #4 of 5 to my single mom. We always struggled financially although I had no idea because my mom did such a fantastic job of never allowing us to feel poor or deprived. She was (and is) undoubtedly a superstar but we moved almost every year of my life which meant a new school district, new friends, a new neighborhood and a whole lot of instability. Going to college was never really discussed and while most kids wanted to be doctors and lawyers, I thought I’d like to be a secretary. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just didn’t really know or fully understand that there was potential for more. I would also occasionally daydream about being a ballerina or a teacher but that felt far fetched.
|that’s me in the stroller in 1988-ish. my mama had her hands full, always.|
Despite being pretty poor and not having a ton of guidance, I somehow managed to be the first in my family to go to college and the first to obtain a passport and leave the country. I left the Midwest a year after graduating college and moved out to California because it felt like a better fit for my lifestyle. Meanwhile, my entire family remained in Illinois. I didn’t have any savings or a safety net of any kind but I made it work because I was determined not to fail.
I was only recently introduced to the concept of grit thanks to my role as an influencer for Graced by Grit, a local women’s activewear line. My first conversation about grit was at a pub in Ocean Beach where I was wearing my Graced by Grit trucker hat enjoying a sunset cocktail after a day of running and lying on the beach. A guy sitting at the bar next to me asked me about my hat and an awesome conversation ensued about grit. We discussed what it means and how powerful it is. We talked about how grit is often the greatest predictor of success regardless of a person’s circumstances.
Grit: Your capacity to dig deep, to do whatever it takes – especially struggle, sacrifice, even suffer – to achieve your most worthy goals.
Perhaps I get it from my mom, a woman who spent nearly 14 years working her way up from an entry-level customer service position to an executive position within her company without a college education, just sheer grit. She had kids to care for and she was bound and determined to be successful.
I think it must be grit that got me to college and through college. It’s likely grit that led me to a tiny village in South Africa to teach HIV/AIDS prevention when no one in my family had ever left the country. It’s grit that led me out to California to start a life that felt right despite how hard it was to start over with nothing. Grit is what carries me through hours and hours of marathon training and grit pushes me through the pain of 26.2 miles, the bloody feet, the aches, the pains and the complete exhaustion of those final miles. Grit, I believe, is how I continue to reach my goals time and time again.
|south africa 2008|
I’ve learned that difficult circumstances, traumatic experiences and a dysfunctional upbringing don’t have to define us but they can give us an extra layer of depth and grit – both of which go a long way. I’ve come to believe that resiliency and determination are the characteristics it takes to shift life from ordinary and expected to exceptional. This is such an empowering ideology when you think about it because it means you don’t have to come from a privileged family or have the perfect upbringing and you don’t even have to be the smartest person around. You just need to be gritty! It is by the grace of grit that I am where I am today and that has been quite a life affirming discovery. I suppose I have my mom to thank for passing on that gritty gene.
|Graced by Grit – the gear
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