personal insights by Kyla Richey, PowHERhouse Ambassador + Professional Volleyball Player, Team Canada captain
Current club: USMP in Lima, Peru | 5 x CIS National Champion with the University of British Columbia
Wait. Stop right there.
What exactly do you think I am going to say?
Are you sure you believe there is a perfect code, a perfect recipe, a perfect concoction of all things life that can be in perfect beautiful harmony with one another? Maybe your mind just started racing, “Oh, I bet she’s going to list the perfect diet tips and tricks so I can lose that 10 pounds and finally be happy.” Sorry sister. No diet tricks here.
What if I told you that living the “perfect life” doesn’t exist.
Let me say that again in case you weren’t listening. The perfect life does not exist.
Everything you’ve been striving to achieve doesn’t really matter.
Okay, okay, before you get mad and throw this into the trash, let me explain what I mean.
Think of your favourite celebrity. The woman with the perfect body. That Instagram wife who is beautiful, skinny, lives in a ridiculously gorgeous, beautiful pinterest-curated home with a caring, sensitive, and kind husband, all the while she kills her entrepreneur business while looking flawless and perfect raising 4-7 children. With ease. Picture that person. I don’t know about you but that is exactly what my Instagram feed is. A lot of perfect couples, perfect wives, perfect dream homes, perfect vacations. Literal perfection with every scroll.
Then there’s my life. It’s anything but perfect.
Every morning my alarm clock goes off, and it feels like I’ve slept for all of 40 minutes whether or not I slept for five or ten hours. I have had chronic fatigue since my high school days so I have woken up in the morning feeling truly rested about ten times in my life. I go straight to the kitchen to boil water to start the liquid-life-fix because, coffee and life only work when hand in hand. My next order of business is straight to the cabinet to take my daily pill to help my severe anxiety and depression. A drug that I swore I would never take but have been on now for about a year.
Time to read, write some things down for the day, then off to practice for a few hours. Barely making it through because mornings are oh, so difficult, and being yelled at by a plethora of older, foreign men is annoying. Get groceries, go home, clean, meal prep, do work, nap, hang out with husband, and back to practice. Sometimes I have an unscheduled breakdown because I am still grieving the loss of my younger brother who died over five years ago (could have been last month for all my brain can tell). If or when that happens, I am ridiculously exhausted for a couple of days afterwards. After eight months of this routine, my life becomes a grind.
Now I am only telling you this because you might have peeked at my Instagram account once before and thought exactly what I said above: “Perfect husband, perfect job, travels all over the world, gets paid to play volleyball, she’s in shape, she’s tall, she gets to nap in the afternoon, she’s always out at cute coffee shops or restaurants…”, or whatever it may be.
Let me stop you right there. I want to show you that there is always someone we can look at and think that their life is perfect.
There is always something we look at to think that our life could be perfect… if only.
It’s a big, never-ending circle of women looking to their left or their right (it doesn’t matter in which direction at this point), thinking that you’re being left behind. That everywhere you look, someone ELSE’S life seems perfect, and you were just dealt a crummy hand. A barely-make-it-through, dull-ish life.
If you’re honest with yourself, that’s exactly what you’re thinking when you go down the Instagram spiral.
Being a professional athlete will be one of the most challenging things I will do in my life. But I bet you’re imagining something totally different than it actually is. Let me repaint that picture for you real fast:
- We essentially sign a contract only knowing how much we are supposed to make and how long the league is, then we jump on a plane having never spoken to our coach, teammates, or having any knowledge of what our apartment will look like (and spoiler alert: sometimes they are horrifying, cockroach-infested closets).
- We are constantly under pressure to perform from not only coaches and staff but the entirety of the club. If we don’t score x amount of points, they threaten to fire us. Told today, gone tomorrow. Sometimes they tell us before a game if we lose, they will cut our pay or send us packing. We are usually paid months behind, and most of the time I leave these foreign countries missing 2-3 months of my 8-month salary.
- Fans will berate us on social media if we play poorly, saying how much we suck.
- In small towns, there are “spies” often at local bars and restaurants so if you’re out a little bit late, it is reported to the club.
- We are cut off from everything we know; normal shops, food, groceries, a language that we can understand, friends, family, transport, a routine, a practice schedules, conversations and deep understandings.
- It can look like it’s fun after a couple of big wins, a free weekend to explore a new city, or lots of naps and coffee.
And it is fun, sometimes. But like your life, my life, and everyone around us, most of the time we are grinding.
And that is okay.
You see, everyone is grinding.
Everyone has their ups and downs and their first world problems.
Even the most beautiful, most popular and famous women in the world – I bet – feel just like you and I. There is no difference between their hearts and ours. The only difference may be their Instagram followers and their bank account numbers. But I bet you that’s not what makes them happy. That’s not what makes them feel filled up and feel celebrated.
As 2018 came to a close and a New Year was fresh upon us, I started seeing a lot of the same messages pop up all over social media. Things such as “This year is dedicated to me.” or “Last year was a year of learning, this year is a year of doing.”
I think a lot of women are starting to understand something very important: we are truly responsible for our own happiness.
Of course, it’s easier to say “look on the bright side and just make sure you don’t react in a negative way” when something crazy isn’t happening in that moment than when things continue piling on and on and on until it feels like you’re drowning. But truly, practicing an attitude of gratitude can be the biggest influencer of your life.
For example, years and years and years of volleyball have gone by and like I said, it can become a little mundane especially when there is so much pressure from outside forces. It’s really hard. It feels almost impossible to keep stress and anxiety in check. However, with years of practice, I am learning to be comfortable with exactly how I am feeling and not judging the “negative” emotions that come through, such as grief, stress, shame. Simply viewing it with a posture of curiosity as opposed to judgement has been really foundational for me to be in tune with myself. And knowing exactly what I am feeling will naturally present a more confident posture in deciding what I need to do for myself each day and in each season.
As a recovering people-pleaser (and I say recovering because every day I have to check myself to make sure I am doing it because I want to not because I feel like I’d be letting someone down if not…), an introvert, a grieving human being that suffers from anxiety and depression, now more than ever, I am realizing that I need to slow down and look after myself. And that is not selfish. This can be hard because I feel I need to help a lot of individuals.
I started realizing that if my energy is not in overflow, I cannot serve those humans to the best of my ability. And I deeply want to be able to do that.
So how can we help everyone else? By taking care of ourselves.
By not stressing over the small little things or believing that we are the biggest let down or failure to our families, children, or spouse. We need to stop believing the lies that the woman on Instagram has a perfect life, because let me tell you, she is struggling just the same.
Perfect is not found anywhere but internally.
If we can start seeing the true, natural, and simplistic beauty of the world, such as through the eyes of children, we will find it. If we can be so content with what we’re doing right then and now, whether playing a game with the family, taking the dog on a walk, or doing the dishes, we’re going to find it.
Find what you ask? That beautiful, simple feeling of contentment. Contentment IS happiness after all. And so isn’t our happiness our perfection?
We are constantly comparing our lives and our days to someone else’s highlight reel (which is exactly what Instagram is for the most part!). One of my favourite quotes right now is “There is nothing in nature that blooms all-year long, so don’t expect yourself to do so either.” Maybe every single one of us should write that down on a colourful sticky note and put it on our mirrors. We are in the highs and lows of seasons, my friends. That what life is.
The feeling of wholeness and completeness is in the mundane tasks. In our day-to-day lives. And of course, the magic in that is our daily lives look nothing like our neighbours or our best friends. So why do we even try to compare? We are in a different season. We have our own feeling to find. If we’re only living for the huge moments in our lives that means we would only be happy in a handful of instances and the rest of the time is spent waiting and longing for something better!? No way.
That is not the life that I have dreamt for you. And that is not the life you have dreamt for yourself. This year is the year that YOU are in control. Not in control like God is in control, but finding the pleasure in not having to be the one griping sand as hard as possible. Because that’s when it all slips from your grasp. Being comfortable in the uncomfortable. And being curious in the unpleasant moments and feelings.
That’s when we grow.
Our life was never meant to be a highlight reel 24/7. That’s not feasible and quite frankly, it would be so exhausting. So why do we think that others have that? Why do we THINK that we want that? Because if you ask yourself right now if you want that ongoing 24/7 everything-is-perfect-and-
We need the loss in our life to realize what a blessing waking up each morning truly is.
Seriously, cracking our eyeballs is the greatest gift we are given.
Some people don’t get that gift.
We need different seasons for all of these different things, for all of the ups and downs.
And we need reflection in order to see what’s happening in our lives.
If things were perfect all of the time, life would be pretty boring, and we’d all be, act, and do the same things. Boring robots. Horrifying. I don’t think it would be much of a life. So perhaps perfect isn’t something we can buy. Or achieve. Or make. It’s simply being. We don’t actually have THAT long to live our life. If you think about an eternally existing universe extending into the hundreds of galaxies out there (this seriously gives me the heebie-jeebies) and how old the earth is, and we only get 80-ish years on average to do our thing? SAD! That’s peanuts to me. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself thinking that someone else’s life is better or easier than my own.
Shouldn’t we just make magic with what we are given? If other women all over the world, literally in every corner of this planet can find joy in mundane, seemingly boring tasks, extreme poverty, cities in war zones, within their own hardships of life, shouldn’t we be able to do the same in ours?
How to live the perfect life.
Sorry, there’s no magic formula. It would be too easy if we all just needed to reach a certain weight and then we’d automatically feel beautiful or worthy. Or if we just needed to get married and then things would be smooth sailing from there on in. Or if we just needed to have a baby to feel complete. Yah right.
Life’s road is actually quite short and the journey isn’t easy. Saying that, are you going to pack it in and surrender or are you going to take back control?
This is the year to rise. This is the year to find yourself. This is the year to live. For you.
It doesn’t matter that we are already one quarter in. You can start anew each and every day.
Remember, cracking your eyeballs each morning should be the only inspiration you need to seek this wild, unique, messy perfection of the day-to-day.
Read our PowHERhouse Profile on Kyla here [July 3, 2015]
Special offer: Enjoy Kyla’s contribution to Volume 4 Confident Embodiment of Authentic Woman magazine!
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