Back when I played soccer, my dad–the soccer connoisseur of my family–always told me to visualize on game day. He’d joke and facetiously say, “Be the ball,” like you see in movies, but his words also held some sincerity. He told me that if I pictured myself running off the ball, having a great first touch, and kicking with firm precision, then I would better be able to actually accomplish those goals in the rush of a game. So on early Saturday mornings, with puffy eyes and fresh dew coating the landscape like a blanket, my parents drove me to my soccer games as I dreamt of little black and white balls in the back seat. And I felt ridiculous doing it. I can’t say for certain whether visualization ever improved my skill in a game, but I do know it has found an unexpected yet welcome home in other aspects of my life—and it should work its way into yours, too.
So what is visualization? Think of it like daydreaming but with a twist. I’m a huge daydreamer, thanks to my avid imagination and lofty life goals, and I could get lost in the corners of my own mind for hours. But while daydreaming involves wishing and longing for something you don’t have, visualization gives you the purpose and ability to make those daydreams a reality.
It’s hard to imagine what visualization is like until you actually experience its effects in a measurable way. Like I said, I never felt it make a noticeable difference back in my soccer days. But now? I finally realized its impacts a few weeks ago. Every summer, I go to a life-changing camp for families affected by cancer. And every summer, I observe the children and volunteers who attend, admiring their outgoing personalities, their bravery, and their willingness to always interject themselves into a conversation with complete strangers. But that’s all I ever did—I observed. While most people made fast friends and knew just about everyone, hardly anyone knew my name, even though I had been attending camp for seven years. There are so many loud, bubbly personalities there that I would always shy away and retreat into myself, despite longing to be known.
But I decided this year, no more. I would not be an observer any longer. Instead, I would be an interjector, a talker, a friend. I wouldn’t consider myself an overly shy person, but I also don’t go out of my way to make small talk and involve myself in conversations. That’s where visualization came in. In the weeks leading up to camp, I’d picture myself walking around the familiar woodsy campsite, chatting with new people, and just being open. While I didn’t light candles in a comfy room and dedicate a specific ten minutes a day to visualization (ain’t nobody got time for dat), I did let it creep into the quiet moments of my daily activities, like when I ate breakfast by myself, when I showered, or when I laid in my bed each night, unable to sleep.
When camp finally came and I arrived in the heart of the beautiful wilderness, completely unplugged from the world, I also unplugged from my thoughts. For a split second, I had forgotten all about my visualization and my plans to finally live in an outgoing way. But when I woke up the first morning and groggily walked across camp to the bathhouse, I forced myself to cheerfully say good morning to the woman passing by. And thus started the chain reaction.
Throughout the week-long camp, I practiced talking to new people, joining conversations, and breaking away from the comfort of my usual friend group. And by the end of the week? I had made countless new friends. People knew my name. Most of all, people wanted to be my friend, not the other way around. They could sense my openness like a glowing, mesmerizing aura, and more importantly, I could feel a change in myself–like I was finally who I wanted to be during all those years of observation. And I attribute it all to visualization.
If I had never pictured myself before camp, practicing all of those outgoing tactics, then I never would have achieved it in real time. It was the visualization that reminded me of my goals, that inspired me to try, and that gave me the confidence and courage to make it my reality. And it was the most amazing feeling.
So now I call to you: how will you use visualization to bring your dreams to fruition? It’s almost time for a new school year and a fresh beginning; like me, imagining yourself before the first day back can help you become the person you want to be. Especially for those of us heading off to college, starting over and making new friends can be really difficult (not to mention scary). I can’t remember the last time I had to start from scratch—do I still even know how to make friends?! I’m told the first few weeks of college are the most important for establishing yourself and new friendships; it’s the prime time for putting yourself out there, and not doing so can result in feelings of loneliness and home-sickness. Avoid all of that. Now is the time to start visualizing. Picturing yourself as an open, outgoing new student will help you truly believe that once you arrive on campus, and your classmates will notice your shining personality in a sea of timid, nervous freshmen.
And how can visualization assist in the fashion world? It can even help with something as small as an outfit. Picturing yourself strutting your stuff in a power ensemble can make a huge difference in your confidence, your mood, and your performance that day—perfect for that upcoming job interview, your first day at school, that big speech you have to give, or any day you need a little extra girl power. I even used visualization to pose in the first picture of this post—I thought of all my favorite bloggers and their stances, and voila, one of my favorite pics resulted.
Next time you’re daydreaming, give it some purpose with the practice of visualization—and let me know how it feels! Maybe all those goals and dreams and aspirations don’t seem so unachievable any more. Just picture that. 😊
Miles of smiles,
Turquoise Blouse: A.N.A. via JCPenney, $20 // White Striped Skirt: Cabi, $90 // Sparkly Espadrilles: White Mountain via DSW, $40 // Black Cat-Eye Sunglasses: Charming Charlie, $7 // Black Elephant Purse: Francesca’s, $20