Oh, hi there. It’s been a few weeks. I blinked, and somehow it’s October. Guess I haven’t been around for a bit (well, actually I have been. Around and around and around it feels like some days). September has been, well, a blur. Why, you might ask?
‘Cause I’ve been busy levelling up. Not familiar with the idea? Let me explain… But before I do, I will also say that levelling up looks different depending on the day, hour, or minute you ask me. Depending on my answer, it may look more or less attractive to you.
Levelling up means when you’ve just settled into a nice little routine/comfort zone, and you’re ready to branch out. You take on a new challenge. You say yes to something that scares you. You intentionally take the harder route instead of choosing to sit back and coast.
That’s all well and good. But practically, on a day-to-day basis, depending on where I am in one of my many self-induced anxiety spirals, levelling up also means “AHHH; THIS IS CRAZY! WHAT THE HECK DID I DO TO MYSELF?!?!?! I HAD IT SO GOOD, WHY DID I GO AND DO THIS?!?!” (Caps lock and exclamations intended, sorry if your ears are ringing).
I have been speaking to myself in my caps lock-ridden angsty voice many a time over the last month. So much so that even when I am not consumed with one of the levelling up challenges I’ve taken on these days, that I just need to sit down and veg out, hence why I’ve been less inclined to spout words of wisdom to cyberspace and the audience of people that somehow, (incredibly to me, I might add) want to keep reading and hearing my crazy, mixed up musings.
By now you might have two questions: how does one level up, and why? (I know, I’ve made it sound so attractive so far – don’t you want to join me in anxiety spiral? It’s really fun, I swear. Think of it as a mental tilt-a-whirl…)
Let’s first go with how. The answer is that it’s up to you! It can mean looking for a change, or asking for new responsibilities at work, when you’ve just settled into your groove and things are moving along easily (like, maybe too easily). It can be saying yes to a request someone has made of you that’s maybe a little daunting, scary, or not something you’d usually go with. It can mean doing something you really want even if it’s a bit of a risk and you’ll have to step outside of your comfortable life. It can mean showing up when you’d actually rather be at home under the covers.
My point is that there is not just one way to level up. Wherever you are at, you can always go to the next level. It probably won’t be easy. It probably will be scary. But the older I get, the more I realize that the hard, scary roads lead to the BEST things (apparently I’m all about the caps today).
In a way, I think this is one reason why I love CrossFit so much. Because you are always levelling up. Just when you get good at something, there’s a way to make it harder. When you become proficient at one movement, you work on another. If you’re “doing it right,” it never gets easier, because you’ll always be adding new challenges, and constantly be pushing yourself (in all honesty and seriousness, I actually probably have less anxiety spirals because of CrossFit. Levelling up and pushing myself in the gym every day has helped me see that I am totally capable of doing so in life).
Now onto the why. Why not stay in your comfort zone? Why not coast? Why not enjoy the easy way? I will say that there is a time and place for those things. Sometimes you’ve come through a hard season and you need them until you get your feet on the ground. Comfort zones feel good for awhile, but if you’re not careful, comfort can lead to stagnation.
Yes, tackling new challenges is hard and scary (especially when you’ve actually asked for these new challenges instead of taking the easy way out). But you know what’s scarier? Waking up in a year and finding yourself in exactly the same place you were the year before. Realizing you haven’t made progress because you were too scared to level up.
In the same way that pushing yourself to tackle harder movements and heavier weights in the gym builds physical strength; levelling up provides a serious boost to your mental muscle and fortitude. And just like over time stuff gets easier in the gym, the more you level up in life, that gets easier too.
Each time you seek out and accept new challenges, then rise to the occasion and meet them, you prove to yourself that you can do it. So then you do it again. And again. And again. Life is still hard and scary (does that change? Anyone know….?). The challenges are still, um, challenging. But you know that you’ve risen to the occasion before. And you hear that personal growth is a good thing. So you do it again.
Before you know it, you’ve levelled up so many times that you’re miles above where you were before. And when you stop and think about it, it’s kind of incredible that you are where you are today. You might look back and wonder how you even got here. Somehow, between all those anxiety spirals, you beat the odds and came out on top. Not unscathed, but in the end, victorious.
And there’s no way that you are the same person you were a year ago. No chance, not even close. You look back at what was once your comfort zone and thank the Good Lord that you didn’t stick around for too long because look where you are now!
That’s not to say it’s easy, or even fun sometimes. But the sometimes-anxiety-ridden slog (don’t I make it sound SO attractive?) of levelling up has served me well. So I guess I’ll keep doing it. After all, it sure beats the alternative, right?
And on that note, I’ll ask YOU…have you levelled up lately?