“It’s stasis that kills you off in the end, not ambition.” – Bono
You’re currently reading my 5th and (bless up) final attempt at this week’s post, which also explains why it’s five days “late,” even though blogs don’t listen to due dates. To say the least, it has been one of the most challenging pieces of writing I have had to struggle through and I hadn’t even been aware as to why. I’ve known what I’ve wanted this post to discuss and I’ve known how I’ve wanted to approach discussing it, yet, each preceding attempt found me lacking the right words and facing a bitch of a writer’s block.
Then a friend of mine, who also blogs and I have been lucky to have as an incredible resource, asked me what was causing my perfectionism around this post and why I feel what I want to say isn’t valuable enough to unearth the right words. And that was exactly what I needed to hear. He shifted my thinking of my approach to stop focusing on my fear behind saying everything wrong to focusing on my desire behind saying what I needed to say.
Then the lights in the room dimmed slightly as the acoustic composition of guitar strings slowly arose in the background. He and I began harmonizing the sweet words of John Mayer himself, making for the utmost appropriate musical interlude to our conversation.
(this didn’t actually happen but you know you pictured that vividly because it’s a classic joke to that song and fit too perfectly not to include).
Regardless, his words pushed me exactly in the direction for which I had been searching. I honestly didn’t have better answers to his questions beyond that I didn’t see the worth of my words. I had been trapped in a mindset that believed people would misjudge my approach and misjudge the personal connection I hold toward this topic.
Ironically enough, what I’ve known I’ve wanted to discuss is being in a state of inertia, a state in which you’re stuck in ways that fit your comfort zone and ways you’ve perfected because they’re “safe”, despite that they’re not progressing you or even causing you detriment. My friend hadn’t the slightest idea as to what my topic was, initially, when he proposed such questions. He was simply pushing me to disclose what I had been subconsciously telling myself to believe about the failures of all my previous attempts. I came to find that this challenge I had been wrestling was the point I wanted to impact upon my readers. I was experiencing the inertia condition.
Newton’s First Law states that a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line (which is less of a literal straight line and more of a metaphor at the moment) unless acted upon by an outside force. This is also known as inertia. Some definitions explain that the object remains in a uniform motion unless compelled to change its state. And, yes, I know there is also a first part to the law but that doesn’t fit my analogy so we’re going to disregard it.
Like this body in motion, we experience a similar state of being in constant velocity, the inertia condition. We become stuck in those ways that satisfy our comfort zone. We know the security of that path and we persist upon such inertia because we are not compelled to change our state.
I cannot lie, physics was one of my weakest subjects in high school. As it should have been though. It’s the study of matter and its motion and behavior through space and time… Like I just can’t even.
One concept I actually understood, however, was this First Law. For an object to overcome inertia, it needs a strength great enough to break a physical resistance. For an individual to overcome inertia, they need a strength great enough to break a mental resistance. The parallel between both situations is understanding that this force must be an outside force. Inertia will always continue in its existing state because nothing is compelling it to change. Henceforth, we have LEADERS.
Sometimes the strength we need to overcome inertia is not a strength we see in ourselves. We become stuck in cycles, as the one I aforementioned, or mundane schedules or negative mindsets and progress through life with this constant velocity assuming that it is the only force that compels us or will ever compel us. Then we have a leader enter our life. And our perspectives are shifted, just as my friend shifted mine.
Sometimes the cause of a shift isn’t even intentional. Because leaders carry such traits of empathy and awareness of others, the ways in which they handle situations or conversations with those stuck in the inertia condition they naturally emit the right energy and say what you need to hear to be a compelling force. Often these words aren’t what you expect, or yet want, but the beauty of a leader is their ability to understand a strength within you that you’ve doubted was even present.
Leaders are the outside force.
My inertia condition (besides this 5-attempt post) began when I was 11. About two to three months in to my 6th grade year, I started suffering from anorexia. My family had just moved and the nerves of starting over in some unfamiliar town overwhelmed my every sense. I was in a fragile state and I longed to find something that would empower me and something I thought solidified my purpose.
My view of my worth was unhealthy. It had been shaped by the mass media messages that preached “waistlines spoke more to strengths than personalities,” that the ability to maintain a slim figure was the only strength that mattered. This was the mindset that fueled my motives further. I started restricting my food intake that 6th grade year and the compliments I began receiving on my weight loss proved I had finally found a strength within myself. The more these compliments came in, the more I instilled restricting as this strength I never felt I had.
I soon found myself in a mindset I could not break. I’d wake up in the morning planning the calories I would have for the day, meticulously devising every meal down to the bite and the 700 total calories I allotted, and then I’d lay in bed every night calculating those calories again and again, assuring I stuck to my plan. They consumed my every thought. I was on a path with which I felt secure, I felt comfort and I repeated my every day on this path that propelled me into an endless cycle. This was my inertia.
I struggled for two and a half years before my anorexia arose into an issue I no longer could control. It reached a severity that required me to receive inpatient treatment the summer following my 8th grade year. After two and a half years of constructing what I deemed the right path, continuing down it with no qualms about the detriments I was causing, reality forced me to accept that it was not.
I began seeing a counselor two years into my anorexia after my parents had come to understand what this constant velocity in which I had put myself had become. Six months and copious weekly appointments later, I only continued to lose weight and forego the steps I was being told to take to defeat my issues.
I was refusing to overcome my inertia.
The day finally came when my counselor spoke with my parents and informed them there was no other option but inpatient. And (spoiler alert) they took to her word.
Inpatient was not easy. And it was even less easy when I had been forced there. I didn’t understand why my parents agreed to a situation against which I so avidly protested. If I’m being honest, the part of me that still desperately hung on to my restricting ways as I went through treatment hated them. It was one of the most miserable three months of my life and they had initiated it. They stripped me of my strength.
Fast forward to now, or even a month after I reached my goal weight set in treatment, and I hold firmly to the belief they didn’t strip me of a strength, but rather, they saw a strength within me I doubted was present. Treatment wasn’t easy not because I had no control of my food intake nor because I was prohibited from any form of physical exercise, two of the most unfathomable conditions I could encounter. It wasn’t easy because I knew no other strength within myself. Restricting had been my every thought. It had been the mindset I perfected and I was a body remaining in a uniform motion with nothing compelling me to change.
Then my parents became my compelling force. They may have acted in ways that I had not wanted and said things I didn’t expect; however, their beauty was their ability to see me for the strong young woman that had much more life to live and had the strength to overcome these issues that held my true self hostage for years. They were the leaders that pushed me to overcome my inertia.
I struggled with this post because of this story. I had no intention for this story to be a cry for pity nor do I think I’m a special case for wrestling with such a common disorder. But I knew this story could resonate with others. I would attest we have all been through something in which we’ve questioned where our strengths lie and needed an outside force to understand us in a way we cannot understand at first. And this is why I pushed through my struggle and will hit submit at the end of this post.
Many people ask what I want to do with my major and, not going to lie, I still don’t have an answer. What they don’t ask, though, is why I want to do my major. This story is my why. I want to be a leader to others as my parents were a leader to me. There is unrecognized beauty in everyone and to be in a position of leadership in which I have the opportunity to discover it is why I have yet and will not stop pursuing my goals.
So, this is the blonde overcoming inertia. And all the physics in-between.