This summer it was made apparent to me that I suffer from the “Damsel in Distress” condition, introduced to me by Caty Pasternak, a women’s leadership coach. Pasternak identifies, “The two primary sabotaging archetypes in female entrepreneurs I work with which we’ll call ‘Miss Independent’ and ‘Damsel-in-Distress.’”
I had seen this post, loved it, and even shared it amongst my female entrepreneur friends but it wasn’t until later that I truly understood which archetype I suffer with. Let me set this story, because it’s a good one…
I traveled to Bali, Indonesia this summer and one day I planned to surf with my friends. Now, mind you, I grew up on the Gulf coast of Florida. Although my dad is a surfer and my earliest and fondest memories include heading to the beach on stormy, windy days to catch some waves — Florida waves are NOTHING like waves in Bali. In Florida we have a soft, sandy bottom to cushion our fall but in Bali it’s reef — rocky, not soft bottom that will slice you open like a filet knife. Also, it didn’t help that I paddled out at one of the most experienced wave breaks in Bali, straight from the Uluwatu cave.
That means strong currents, shifting wave breaks, and yup, lot’s of reef bottom. As I paddle out I’m feeling great, “I’m doing it! wooo!” that lasted a few minutes until that strong current pushed me right into the “impact zone” and a rouge set of waves came through. If you have no idea what this means, it means I was stuck in the area where big, strong waves are breaking ON me. This is when I realized I am out of shape, this is when I realized I really want to live and not drown, and this is when I realized I am a damsel in distress. I wish I was joking, but as I was being pummeled wave after wave (I’ve never felt such a strong wave in my LIFE, I felt like a ping pong ball) I seriously had the thought, “WHY IS NO ONE HELPING ME?!”
It’s embarrassing to even admit that. But, it happened. And it was in this moment that I realized no one is going to hold my hand. I need to do this on my own. I need to take responsibility for my actions. I can do this.
Here’s a funny ending — after I finally paddled past the break, I felt ON TOP OF THE WORLD. I made it! I was alive! I was seriously hooting and hollering (between catching my breath) with excitement and there was an older, male surfer over to my left about 20 feet also paddling out. I, high from a near-death experience, let out a big, “Woooo! First time Uluwatu!” expressing my gratitude for having made it but also, subconsciously looking for a, “great job!”. The guy just looks over at me and yells, “Fix your bathingsuit!” — my bikini bottoms were halfway down my ass. I just smiled, laughed, and kept paddling. I was not going to pull my hands out of the water and waste one second of paddling to get my [bare] ass as far away from that wave break as possible.
This was my moment. In this moment of getting “tumbled and humbled” I like to call it, I realized how much I truly suffered from being a “Damsel in Distress”. I actually think people (what people I may ask?) are going to save me when I get into precarious situations. This is not the way I want to live. I want to take responsibility for my life, and the trajectory it follows guided by my daily actions, decisions and motivations.
When I had this realization, it completely shifted my attitude towards my business, Om the Go. I really was operating in a subconscious state of “when am I going to be saved?” which translated to, “when are my sales going to start taking off?”, or “when am I going to get the big distribution deal?”, etc. Realizing that some fairy tale character on a magic carpet won’t save me by getting me all the sales I want or bringing the big distribution deals to me through a genie in the bottle reminded me that I NEED TO DO THE WORK. I need to declare what I want. I need to take daily action and make daily decisions to move me in the direction of my dreams, and not just sit and wait for the magic to appear. I need to make my own magic.
Here’s to staying humble, making magic, and doing things that scare me!