Originally written 25 Feb 2016, at the start of day 1 of a 4 day 161 run down the coast of Southern California in honor of fallen female servicemembers
One of main missions of this run is to highlight the role women have and continue to play in our nation’s defense. It is to show that women have not been simply supporting operations from the safety of an office or a home base. By the very nature of these wars, “supporting” combat operations often means engaging in combat – a role many don’t think women are capable or willing to play. While a lot of my posts have been focused on women in those roles, my intention has not be to downplay the role of those women and men that support in so many other ways – the husband that packs the house alone, the wife that home-schools the children, the aunt that sends care packages, the siblings that call utility companies, the friends that send you boxed wine, the parents that drive across the country to smile and wave goodbye time after time. So today’s second dedication goes to the supporters.
Over the past couple months, and especially the past couple weeks, I have been overwhelmed and humbled beyond adequate words by the support I’ve received, from strangers, family, and friends. Coming from a small town I’ve always enjoyed the support that comes from being a part of close knit community even before I could recognize it. Being out in the big scary world, I’ve realized how important the support that comes from communities is. So the past week I’ve really thought about why? Why do I, we, seek out support? Why do we feel so lost without it? Why do we surround ourselves with those that support and encourage? Why is it necessary for success or progress? Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Support validates our mission. As much as we may believe in our personal mission, it’s nice to have others believe in it too. When this run started getting a little more press, I was nervous that people wouldn’t understand what the run was trying to do, or why I felt it was important. I thought maybe people wouldn’t be interested. But the support from complete strangers let me know that the mission was important, that it mattered, and that our hard work now and during the event was for a purpose that others recognized. And let’s face it, we all need a little validation.
Support gives us confidence. Support from our loved ones reminds us that others believe in us and think that we can do little bit more than we think we can ourselves. You hear a lot of people, often through cheesy instagramquotes, say that they’re motivated by the haters – by the people that say “no you can’t.” I understand that. But maybe because that happens so rarely in my life, I find myself motivated most often by those that say “yes you can.” When others believe in you, you can believe in yourself.
Support gives us safety and love. Maslov’s hierarchy of needs puts personal safety as one of the very basic of needs, without which no other needs or desires become apparent or fulfilled. While Maslovwas talking about physical safety, I think the principle can be applied to the safety of the soul. The mental and emotional safety provided by support is critical to being a happy human. And love–well, call me a romantic–but, love is the most amazing capability of the human soul. Love has been described in everything imaginable way. It’s discussed,dissected, defined, described, lamented about, cried over, laughed over. It’s started wars, families, and some of the greatest stories of all time. It’s the most sought after and yet abundant phenomena. It’s what keeps the spouses and family together despite the distance. It’s what enables a soldier to lay down her life for her fellow soldiers. It’s what solidifies friendships and bonds across time and distance. It’s what gets four girls in an RV to run (or drive) 161 miles down the coast. Support gives us safety and shows us we’re loved. And in plain English, safety and love just feel good. We all seek love and, as adventurous as my heart may be, sometimes I just want to be safe. There’s a comfort there, and for a small town girl that lived on the same dirt road for 18 years, that comfort is a need deeply rooted in my soul.
Support helps prevent failure. Michelle brought this up last week, and I wholeheartedly agree. Support helps us fight off failure. When people support you, they believe in you and they so often are counting on you – to achieve the mission, to spread the message, to reach the potential they believe you have. This can often feel like pressure and sometimes even too much pressure; but, mostly, that support keeps you going. Because of all that support gives you, you feel you owe it to people to perform, to succeed. You don’t want to disappoint your supporters. You don’t want to prove them wrong. You want to be worthy of their support – so you try a little harder, push a little farther, and achieve a little more. When you don’t think you can do something, that you’re not good enough and doing it for yourself just doesn’t get you one more step – doing it for someone else sometimes works. Support holds you accountable to your goals and helps you stave off failure for just a little bit longer.
But here’s the big one, at least to me. Although support helps you stave off failure, ironically enough, support is the one thing that allows us to risk failure. And risking failure, or rather the fear of failure, is so often the thing holding us back from really big things. From our really big dreams. When our dreams are only dreams, they’re safe. They allow us to escape from whatever. They allow us to think, maybe one day, one day I’ll be great. But they are safe from the realities of life–you can visit them often without real work or risk. But the moment you move those dreams from dreams to goals and start planning, the insecurities start creeping in. The fear starts creeping in. You start to wonder if you can really do it. You start fearing failure. And once you fail, I mean really fail spectacularly and publicly, it’s really hard to start again, to dream that, or any dream, again. Unless you have support. Eric Grietens talks about this in his book Resilience. He critiques the “everyone gets a trophy” culture that’s arguably pervading our society. He argues that children should be exposed to, and experience failure because failure breeds resilience; BUT, he argues that this approach only works if the child (or adult for that matter) has a loving support structure to fall back on. I can honestly say I’ve never failed at anything in my life that I haven’t have my support structure to take me shopping, pick me up, buy me a drink, feed me dinner, bail me out, or otherwise just be there. Without that safety net, that support, I don’t think I would have dared any number of things. I don’t think I would have bounced back, or rather, moved through my multitude of failures. I don’t think I would have ever taken a dream and thought, “Yes, let’s do that.”
I firmly believe that no one gets to where they are or who they are by themselves. I see the support each of ushave for each other, and I see the support we have from our respective communities. And I think I speak for all of us when I say Thank You. Thank you for your support on this run and all our ridiculous endeavors.Thank you to the over 100 friendsfor sharing our story and making a donation. Thank you to donating your RV, you time, your legs. Thank you for give us air time and print space.Thank you for the late night phone calls, the security blankets, the road trips, the financial support, the emotional support, the “yes you can”s and “yes youwill”s. The “I love you”s and “Let’s try again”s. The “I’m behindyou”s and “what can I do to help?”s. The “you inspire me”s and “we’re so proud”s.
And on behalf of the military community, thank you for your support. Thank you for stopping on the street to tell us you appreciate us. Thank you for paying your taxes. Thank you for the girl scout cookies and baby wipes and Christmas cards. Thank you for volunteering, for the USOs, for free checked bags, for veterans organizations and fundraising. Thank you for setting aside differences and politics and reaching out to strangers. Thank you for the flags, the honor guards, the donations, the patriot guards, the VFW drinks and American Legion meals. Thank you for playing the so often thankless support roles. Thank you for your sacrifice, your lonely nights, your rescheduled Christmases and missed birthdays. Thank you for the fuzzy skype calls and homemade caramel brownies. Thank you for feeding the kids, moving every three years, and playing nursemaid. Thank you for your patience, your love, and your support. Thank you for the “do your best”sand most importantly“I’ll be here when you’re done”s. Thank you.