Cut the Kool-Aid

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Monica Gabriel Marshall
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I have a confession to make. For the past year, I have set my alarm clock for 5:30 am each morning and have yet to wake up before 6:30. This admission may seem insignificant, but I have plans for that hour to make me stronger (exercise), healthier (breakfast) and happier (meditation). Each morning, I have the opportunity to claim an hour of existential bliss, but instead, I start each day with a lost battle, even before my daily duel with the blow dryer and round brush.

The truth is, my incredible lack of will power depresses me and I am tempted to take a nice cool drag of that "justification" Kool-Aid that stains so many people's upper lips. One refreshing sip convinces me that "there is no way I can get up at 5:30 am. 6:30 am is a perfectly respectable time to wake up. Better, in fact!" Yes, this drink is sweet, addictive and readily accessible.

Instead of acknowledging personal struggle, we simply pretend that there isn’t a struggle in the first place.

We are constantly challenging ourselves to improve our figures and our careers, but when it comes to personal growth it is much easier to justify our failings rather than challenge ourselves to make steps toward change. Sometimes it even seems like we describe our personal struggles the way we would our professional resume, presenting our weaknesses as assets. “I gossip because I care so much about my friends!” or "I lied to him to protect his feelings!" Mmm hmmm... sure.

It does take considerable courage to acknowledge weakness, especially if our struggles have hurt us. But take heart! Women have a tremendous capacity for personal courage. History is full of women with the courage to face unpleasant truths and endeavor to change them. Things would be in a sad way today if women who fought for our right to vote instead feigned acceptance of their situation, rather than working up the courage to take action. There are still women today who refuse to give up on principled fights, even when it feels like the battle has been lost.

Despite my complete failure when faced with waking up an hour early, this past year I have learned that I do have the ability to change and to heal from choices that hurt me in the past. We can do better, it just takes some introspection and perhaps an awkward stare-down with our vulnerabilities in the mirror.

As a new year approaches, I know the kind of woman I want to be and will be drawing up a new set of goals for myself. Will I convince myself that I'm a 6:30 am kind of girl? I think not! Toss the Kool-Aid and pass me a dose of personal fortitude—and a loud alarm clock!

Updated on 12/6/12: This article has been edited from the original version.

Image via Jenna Carver

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Monica Gabriel

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