Riding the waves or steering the ship?

Apr 06, 2022

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. But I, like most people, have an aversion to 20/20 after what we’ve been through. I remember the end of 2019 being “clear vision” spouted everywhere like the douchebags we are (we can only see THAT in reverse too).

But Steve Jobs once said “you can only connect the dots looking back, not forward, so we must trust that the dots will somehow connect in our favour” and today I stand in a new place, looking back, and assessing all I can call a minefield of growth, pain, loss, expansion, empowerment, challenge, struggle, and so much I have no words for.

I like words. I use them a lot. I talk, a lot. Once upon a time I thought this was a bad thing. “Shut up” I would to think to myself. I was the butt of a lot of a jokes and internalized it all. I was actually shy and quiet as a kid. I rarely spoke and was introverted and spent most of my time in my room, writing stories, drawing, colouring. And I was always told to speak up, speak louder, be more assertive.

Then I was sent to a leadership conference, grade 9. It changed my life, drew something out of me that I didn’t know I had inside of me.

Then I was told to shut up, I talk too much. You can’t win when you’re living in this world. If you’re trying to please that is. Thankfully I did give up that habit of people pleasing a long time ago.

Back to words and how I’m at a loss at times to explain or even put into words such an experiential journey. One that left me wondering why I had eating disorders and cared what everyone thought to unpacking childhood sexual abuse to starting and ultimately losing a business I thought was “my mission” in life.

Looking back it’s easy to see the mistakes, the glaring mistakes. In the moment, in the pit, I didn’t always see them. Sometimes, like all good red flags, I wanted to see how red it could get. And some of them I just downright ignored because I wanted what I wanted. And I wanted to see what I wanted to see. I made it what I wanted it to be, even when it wasn’t.

As 2021 is coming to a close and I’m finding myself reflecting on the shit show that has been the last 2 years of my life, I have no regrets, but a lot of lessons. Those lessons and the growth that came with them were only possible because I stopped steering my ship and let someone else steer it for me.

That’s not really a good thing, but here’s why it was in my case. I wouldn’t have learned the lessons the way I did, in the timeframe I did, if I didn’t let go of the wheel. See, I was fuckwithable. And because of that I would never be able to confidently steer my ship to where it needed to go. I would always be checking in, wondering if I was in the right place, looking for validation and approval – in people and places who couldn’t give it to me.

In 2017 I went looking for validation. I had found myself, having given up TW Fitness, and the new venture wasn’t exactly ready. I moved too fast. I didn’t have a solid foundation under me. Without going into the weeds, I mean, jump but you know, plan. For Fucks Sake.

I didn’t. I leaped. The whole grow your wings on the way down but I pulled the parachute too quick and got caught on a tree branch and sort of was stuck in a half leap half fly whole lot of uncertainty. Fear kicked in. And I didn’t have a back up plan.

You know what happens when fear gets in?

It will fucking destroy you.

So I went looking for validation. ” I made the right decision, right?” I went to the wrong place. And I got a resounding kick in the fucking solar plexus that threw me so far off my axis I was years cleaning up the mistakes.

A ship doesn’t sink because of the water outside, it sinks because of the water that gets inside. I sprung a fucking leak. It was a solid six months before I came up from air in my panic what the fuck did I do state. And by then, I had taken a job. I had made financial decisions that would cost me for years to come. And then I made more bad decisions to try to fix those decisions. I stayed in the job even though I didn’t want to out of obligation, a sense of responsibility. I made choices. From fear. Not from faith.

One conversation in a moment of weakness. Opening to the wrong person in a moment of vulnerability lead me down a path that would ultimately lead me to self destruct.

And it was exactly what I needed.

The person had told me I was not on the right path and if I stayed on it I would lose everything. I left the path and I lost everything. Isn’t it funny how it works that way?

But here’s why I’m not mad and what I learned about it all.

  1. I am 100% responsible for my decisions. And if I wasn’t lacking faith in myself and the universe I wouldn’t have gone seeking validation in a place that I knew couldn’t give it to me.
  2. That journey led me to places I would never have done willingly. It brought me to fear and panic and the darkest places within myself – where fear lived inside of me and I wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t for this.
  3. I couldn’t get to where I wanted to go until I went there. So something had to take me there, why not this?
  4. When you lose faith in yourself you’ve already met the end.
  5. When you let go of the wheel you will end up where the waves take you.

The thing is I was steering my ship and I was solid in where it was going. Then in a moment, a hesitation, even through it all I knew it wasn’t true, but once the seeds were planted I couldn’t resist watering them and I grew a garden of fear and doubt.

It’s easy to blame the others but in reality, if the wounds wasn’t inside of us, they couldn’t poke it. If the trigger wasn’t there for me, it wouldn’t have been activated. So I look at these events as a blessing in disguise. I had to learn it and instead of choosing wisdom and learning from that I chose pain and learned from that.

Fear costs us. It will cost everything. And sometimes that clears our path. Sometimes it helps us get back to the path we’re supposed to be. Nothing we create from fear will ever lead us to the greatness we’re destined for.

It can lead us to clear the decks and get the gunk out. Or we could learn from wisdom. That’s ultimately what I hope to pass on – the wisdom of the lessons I’ve learned so you don’t have to go down the roads I did.

When push came to shove I got scared. And that fear gripped me with its icy claws and led me on the wildest adventure and down paths I don’t have words. And I don’t need them. Because when it was done and I was spit back out, grown up and wiser, I was also more powerful.

And I realized, finally, unfuckwithable.

So the journey was successful. I could have chosen a faster track but I had lessons to learn and probably was too stubborn to learn them any other way.

A little more humble, a little more wise, with a firm grip on the wheel, there’s nowhere left to go but forward.

At last at last the past is past, I’ve broken free and won.

And now it’s time to live it up and really have some fun”.

And the question I’d like to leave you with is “are you riding the waves that someone else is steering? Or are you the captain of your own ship?

Stay Wild,

Tonya

PS… I’ve got a new facebook group called “unstoppable women” (you know, for women like us who have no quit). Come and join me.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

A Journey to the Soul

Read Unchained: A Journey to the Soul from Head to Heart and discover Tonya Whittle’s story of becoming.

LEARN MORE

You’re Ready for The Next Level

Get in touch with Tonya Whittle to discuss programs, retreats, speaking engagements, or to start building the fulfilling life you deserve.

GET IN TOUCH

Sign up for Sage Living Newsletter

Tonya's weekly newsletter with an empowering theme, weekly reflections, and action items to create an extraordinary quality. of life.