“You Didn’t Kick Hard Enough Andy!”

I often find myself thinking that if I just try a little harder I’ll develop closer friendships, finally get healthier, have a better relationship with my partner, and so on, in just about every area of my life. I’ve been this way ever since I swam a 50-yard freestyle race in a sectionals swim meet in New York State around the age of 12.

For those who don’t know how large swim competitions go, you perform in qualifying heats, to hopefully make it to the final race where the top 8 swimmers from those heats compete against each other for the gold, silver, and bronze. I was raised to be a swimmer and was pretty darn good as a kid, especially in freestyle and backstroke. My naturally tall height and skinny frame always helped me to streamline in the water quite well, which is the very thing that led me to make it to this sectionals swim meet that day. My hope back then was to finish in the top three, as then I could go on to states, then maybe the junior Olympics after that, and ultimately the Olympics. I truly had dreams of becoming like Mark Spitz who was the first multiple Olympic gold champion for swimming in our country. So, when I passed all those qualifying heats in the 50-yard freestyle that day, beating out some 50 to 60 people, enough to land myself in lane 8 for the final race, I was stoked. As the gun went off for the final race, I pounded the water, as fast as I could and when I finished, I realized I had come in last. I was pretty down about it and what I really needed then was to be surrounded with unconditional love. What I got instead as I emerged from the water, tears in my eyes from defeat, was a mother with a towel in hand telling me I didn’t kick hard enough and could have done better. There was no mention of how proud she was that I had even made it that far. And from that moment forward in my life, it became a pattern of always believing if I just try a little harder, I’ll eventually “make it” and achieve what I want. And you know what? The only thing this has ever achieved is depression and frustration again and again. That’s why I’m working hard now to tell myself something different.


Yes, Mom, I’m talking to you and yes, I’m also talking to everyone else as well who have ever told me that if I just tried harder, my life will get better somehow. Living like this has been exhausting. It’s led to the loss of many friendships over the years because I’ve often tried TOO HARD. It’s also led to making myself sicker, as I’ve pushed myself too hard to get well. And it’s even led to dissatisfaction with partnerships, due to a lack of acceptance of where either I was in my spiritual growth or my partner.

It’s time to change this. It’s time to really start accepting that it’s ok to just be me. That I don’t have to improve something about myself to make it. That ultimately, God loves me for me, and always has, just as I am, even when I placed 8th in that race at 12 years old! In fact, I’m quite sure that God was cheering me on that day and proud of me even making it that far. And if God can be proud of me for me just being me, just as I am, then so should I.

It’s time to stop blaming myself for not trying hard enough, because I am trying hard enough, always have been, and I don’t need to try any harder. It’s time to just accept myself as I am and trust that God is ok with that and will put those things in my life who are ok with that too, who are ok with me just being me, because that is good enough! Doing this might just finally give me the peace I’ve been searching for my entire life, the peace I’ve consistently lost, all because I was told once that I didn’t kick hard enough.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson