Living Your Full Potential

I just finished watching the film “The Social Network”, and then (I can’t decide if this is ironic or predictable) went on facebook. I usually spend at least an hour a day or so trolling around online as a way to unwind, entertain myself, or be social. And it struck me suddenly as quite incredible that two really smart university kids could come up with something that has swept the world into a whole new realm of social interaction. Facebook is a daily part of my regime, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I can guarantee there are many others out there who are in the same boat. But what a feat it is to develop a program that would become so part of daily life across the globe! And as I did my usual rounds on FB, I became awash with a mixture of awe and remorse. I used to be smart. I once had dreams of grandeur, of creating something significant to the human race. What happened?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be successful. I think back to when I was in high school or even university and what that meant to me. I suppose all I ever wanted was to inspire people by doing something that I loved, and feel like I was living up to my full potential. And by this I mean that I wanted to believe in my heart of hearts that I was MY best, not necessarily THE best, because just as soon as you reach the top there is inevitably going to be someone snapping at your heels to usurp you. And it’s lonely at the top. I’d rather be surrounded by friends and be well liked. So I set goals around the premise that I would aspire to be inspirational, kind, and have fun. But still, even with guidelines more specific that mine, how do you rate success?

I suppose success to me has always been more of a feeling than a tangible reality.  And so I’ve been chasing this sensation, feeling for it like a pocket of warmth in a seemingly endless tundra of possibility. I’d have to say that lately I’ve been living a dream that’s very close to what I imagined success to feel like. I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I take stock of what I have in my life. I have the most amazing job(s) with the most amazing people on the planet, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am very well cared for, to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. But at the end of the day, it still feels like there’s something missing. No matter how much I work out, how creative I am, how many positive interactions I have a day, or how much money I have in the bank, one thing remains the same: I come home, and all I have is me. All I will ever have is me. I have to be inside my head and be OK with the person dwelling there when I shut the light off at night. I have to learn to be alone and not feel lonely. And lately, despite all of the wonderful things in my life, I can’t help but feel like I’m settling. Settling for what? What part of this lesser version of myself is not letting my potential greatness emerge?

Sometimes I wonder what would it be like to be a super athlete. To be completely and totally conditioned to a particular sport to a level that could compete with the world’s best. I admire the dedication, the courage, and the self-confidence that it takes to achieve such status. Just for the record, being in shape is something that is entirely new to me. I feel like I am in adequate physical condition, certainly compared to how I was before. I was the girl in junior high who always “forgot” her gym strip, was picked last for every team, and loathed her body. I was happy to be a book nerd and an art geek. Growing up I had severe asthma and was told by more than one doctor that I could not exercise; otherwise I’d be at risk of an attack that could end my life. I longed to run like the wind, play with the other kids, and attend track meets, but instead sat longingly on the sidelines, wondering if I’d ever have that much fun. Then one day in my early teens I decided that I was done being sick. I handed in my resignation for the position I’d filled as a casualty of illness, and I began to exercise my willpower. So many physical limitations are mental manifestations. So instead of being a victim, I manifested health. And because I wanted it so badly, I healed. I finally got to go to a track meet (only as a spare, mind you!) but I was there. And I was hooked. I joined the tennis and badminton teams in high school, started running and going to the gym, and found yoga in university. Running my first half marathon was the greatest feat of my life. Imagine the feeling that swept over me as I crossed the finish line: a girl who was told that if she got out of breath she could die had just completed her first race. I arrived at the finish line sweating and sputtering, drenched from the rain, and totally, completely, breathtakingly alive. It was as if suddenly everything became possible.

And then I realized that anyone could become an athlete by putting in the hours of hard work and dedication. Surely there is a portion that is genetic, and circumstances may have a bit to do with it as well. But more than anything it has to do with the power of the will. My uncle Jim Domanko is such an inspiration; after incurring a severe neck injury from landing on his head on a mountain biking trail that rendered him incapable of walking, by the sheer power of his mind, he recovered and went on to run an Ironman. Thus, I truly believe that anyone can become an athlete. So what about a genius? A rock star? A hero? An artist? A political leader? If you are unhappy, do not accept that what you are now is all you’ll ever be. Our self-concept is a collection of all the things we’ve been told since childhood. Every comment, every let down, and every insult morphs into an insecurity that will follow us around for a lifetime. The bottom line is: what we believe about ourselves will become reality. So all you have to do is want something badly enough. All you have to do is believe.

Therefore my work is not so much to reach higher, but to ground deeper. Push down to go up. Find what it is inside me that drives my passion and fuel it up. I am not content with mediocrity. I will make a pact with myself to surrender excuses and create some real changes. I choose to create me, the best and most honest self I can, through dedication, hard work, and letting go. Baby steps: like eating organic, committing to my own personal yoga practice, and buying a video camera. Who’s with me? I’d love to hear your own personal goals, stories, and steps you plan on taking to living your dream.

I think it’s time to turn out the light. Goodnight, and namaste.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anne Kivari
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 21:27:36

    Hi Carol,
    My name is Anne Kivari and I believe you know my son Carson. I wanted to say that I enjoy reading your writings here and they always prompt me to go deeper within myself and challenge my current thinking. Thanks for the inspiration.


    • Carol Domanko
      Jul 24, 2012 @ 01:36:51

      Thank you so much, Anne! It means a lot to me to know that sharing my random ramblings provoke thought and inspire change in others. And yes I do know your lovely son! Thanks again; your sentiments encourage me to keep writing. Be well 🙂


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