No. 115

The Rut

To put it simply, I’ve been stuck.

I find myself in a place where it’s hard to breathe, where I feel the weight of expectations heavy on me. It is as if I were at the bottom of a lake in an air bubble, unable to break through to the surface and the glint of sunlight I see so far away.

Let’s start at the beginning: A year ago, I took archery on full speed, practicing five to six days a week, shooting state and national competitions, traveling all over the country to compete. It was awesome — except when it wasn’t.

I had promise. I had potential.  But I also had a big problem.


Archery is a sport of repetition: you breathe, pull an arrow from your quiver, nock the arrow on the string, breathe, position your left hand on the riser of the bow, position your three fingers on the string, breathe, tense the string, lift the bow, breathe, take aim as you draw back, breathe, feel your body align, settle the bow, and shoot.

If only it were that easy.

But in between breathing and moving, there are the thoughts that come at me, that drag me down: I’m not good enough, I’ll never be good enough, they’re waiting for me to fail, I know I’m going to fail because I always do, I can’t trust myself, this is panic, it doesn’t matter how hard I try, what does anything matter. The demons in my mind are monsters, fighting over the chance to claim the kill.

I have confronted some in the past months, slaying them, burning them, banishing them to places they’ll never be able to reach me from. But there are so many, and sometimes, especially when I stand there, poised for a shot and someone summons one in, I feel their power for a moment. So I learn to fight in new ways.

There are more battles in my future, more competitions, more moments where I’ll doubt if I can do this.

That is where I found myself last week, in a place where the doubt was thick like smoke around me. So I did the only thing I knew might help me: I wrote a list of all the reasons I am grateful for this struggle.

Because I’m not alone. Because others have reached out to help me. Because I’m learning the importance of a moment. Because this is teaching me what true focus and resolve are. Because greatness isn’t achieved if we give up when we encounter obstacles.  Because the only person who can stop me from being successful is myself. Because I am discovering where my true power lies.

I am grateful for these opportunities, because they will make me stronger, make me wiser, make me new.

There is a way out. There is always a way out. And it is mine to create.

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

6 thoughts on “The Rut

  1. It looks like you shoot olympic recurve – me too! (I can loose days in the Lancaster catalog!) There is nothing is quite like that feeling when you know that you have nailed the shot. Trust your muscles to settle in and (if it helps) imagine that you are Gena Davis or Katniss or Merida or Shado. You got this. You are strong.

    1. Sivy, I love having another archer out there who knows what I’m taking about! I’ve only been doing this for about a year so my muscles haven’t really developed the way I know they will down the line a bit. And I shoot traditional recurve — so no sighter or stabilizers or such, which I’m sure you know is a whole challenge onto itself. I’m taking it one day at a time.

  2. Brandi, your words are always so inspiring. I am always my worst enemy – I let the thoughts of fear creep into my mind and I let them win more times than I like to admit. Your tactic of making a list of why you are grateful for this struggle is brilliant. It’s such a beautiful idea that I need to do. Thanks for always sharing and inspiring.

    1. You’re so sweet, Meli. Thank you.

      Honestly, I think we’re always our own worst enemies. But once we conquer ourselves, there really is no holding us back.

      Finding reasons to be grateful was hard at first. I started with simple things like: “I’m grateful that I can physically shoot my bow” and “I’m grateful that I can afford to buy archery equipment” then moved on to the bigger ones. Once I was done though, it felt like such a transformation. It’s still a struggle, but I so see the jewel in the lotus.

  3. If you’ve ever read The Garden of Evening Mists, there are some really good passages about the archery and it really changed how I looked at it. I have no doubt that despite bumps in the road, you’ll end up being able to continue your journey with a smile on your face

  4. You’re awesome. I believe in you. Just keep being you. You have the power, smarts, and strength to fight your way through twice as much as you think. Just like we learned in yoga, take power from your breath.

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