The first time I was asked this question, I had to pause for a second. I was confused at the deliberate change of words, confused in fact, how to answer it. I could answer the question, “How are you doing?” – that was an easy one – I could just provide a list of all the things I was doing, talk about how busy I was or the next goal I was working toward, all without touching on how I’m actually feeling. How are you being, is a far more difficult question.

To be honest, it’s a bit uncomfortable to answer. Sometimes, even to my closest friends. There’s an honesty and vulnerability to that question of ‘being.’ It dives deeper and requires self-reflection and honesty to answer it. There’s a responsibility to it, both in asking it and answering it. But, because of those things, it’s even more important to ask it.

Just a few weeks ago, if you asked me that question – how am I being – I wouldn’t know how to answer it. I was stuck in a low spot, dealing with another injury and completely sick of life on crutches, no weight bearing and feeling like a prisoner in my own body. I felt worthless again, caught up in a conditional form of self-worth, one that was linked to my ability to do, to move and not to simply being me – regardless of what I could do physically.

Non weight bearing after my foot surgery

This distinction is easy to forget. It’s easy to get caught up in the power of doing, moving from goal to goal, or one race to the next. It’s harder to sit with your feelings and just be, rather than distract from them by doing – even when it’s something you love to do! But for me, I’ve realized it takes a balance of both to be my happiest self and asking the important questions that talk about me, separate from any external achievements. When I do that – I’m at my happiest.

Loading up on Skratch rice cakes before the start of the 200 mile race

Take this past weekend, for example. I was registered to do the Unbound gravel 200 mile gravel bike race in Emporia, Kansas. I wanted to race it, to see how I would do. But, now, after the injury, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to even start. I had surgery 8 weeks ago to repair a broken foot and after 5 weeks of non-weight bearing, and crutches, I was in a pretty dark place. Mentally, I was struggling with self-acceptance in ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’ I was working hard on shifting my mindset. Only 3 weeks ago, I was given the ok to start the long process of weight bearing. I hopped on my bike with no hopes of really doing the race, or really doing anything, I didn’t want to base my self worth on an activity, so I just focused on feeling content, no matter what I was doing. I was just so thrilled to be outside moving again. I felt like I was feeding my soul and just being me, not worrying about time or how fit I was, I was content being me.

In those 3 weeks leading up to the race, I found myself wanting to do it but for very different reasons. It wasn’t for a finishing time or to measure how I did compared to others, it wasn’t even a race for me. The point of me doing this incredible challenge, was for me to get lost in being my happiest self, to try hard, to be tired, doubt if I could continue and to put myself out there in a vulnerable way. Maybe I couldn’t do a 200-mile bike race on 3 weeks of training and a broken foot, but something was drawing me to it. I wanted the chance to go for it, a day to simply try hard, and to experience the highs and lows.

Crossing the finish line before the sun

That’s exactly what I got. I was able to do the race, not because of where I was at physically, but because of where I was at mentally.What got me through to the end was knowing with absolute certainty that I was doing this not for a result or a ‘check mark’ on my to-do list, I was doing it for me and in those moments of doubt, suffering in the heat and rocky terrain, my soul felt its happiest – I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was being my best, thus doing the best I could, finishing the race strong, happy and content.

Happy and content at the finish line

So, in a nutshell, that’s how I’m being. Not perfect, not ‘there yet,’ not even sure what’s next, but I’m pretty content with it. Tell me how are you being? It’s a question I’ve come to prefer now.

One Comment

  • Buzz Burrell says:

    You’re right! For decades I’ve been wondering if I was a Human Doing instead of a Human Being …

    Saturday in Kansas was very hot, I had trouble eating and drinking, so fell way off my expected pace. And I am quite pleased to report, it was fine. I wasn’t going to win any money anyway! I went into Death March mode, just turning the pedals over, eventually I’d get there, so no worries. As the saying goes, “Pain is a given; suffering is optional.” Years past the long slog would have been highly aggravating, but this time I focussed on being happy to be outside, moving, and breathing – simple things, but those that at some point I will no longer be doing at all.

    So IMO your post is very intelligent; thank you for sharing.

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