“Are you trying to compete with yourself, where you previously were?”

I love the idea of a birthday post. I get super reflective around this time of year, and writing down my thoughts helps me to process them. I just made the hard decision to bow out of a race in a few short weeks. I wanted to run it, but only mentally. In my mind, I wanted to get back out there, to fall back in love with the sport of running, but every run was difficult. My body was not on board. I rarely got to the end of a run without some part of me feeling sore. My body fought me every step of the way, and right now, after running a short distance, my ankle feels like it’s caught fire. I’ve never run at this weight before, and I knew I wouldn’t be as fast as I previously was. Still, I didn’t expect training to go this poorly. I was frustrated, even a bit angry. I probably put too much pressure on my body. I hadn’t been running prior to the beginning of training, but I thought that the starting mileage was low enough that it wouldn’t be a problem. I never know how to begin. It’s humbling to know that once I ran 26.2 miles in one day, or that I once ran 60 miles in a week.

I won’t push my body past its breaking point, and to me, that feels like growth. I’ve had to quit things before, but it was more so my reaction, how quickly I let this go, that felt different. I feel like I’ve grown a lot this past year, and maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to feel like an adult. It has been an incredible year, one I am truly thankful for. One of the things that makes it so special is that I know where I’ve been. There are several years of my life that are prime candidates for the absolute worst. There was the year my father passed, and several years in my twenties that were almost as brutal. The recovery was devastatingly difficult to endure, as I struggled to pick up the pieces and make a life for myself, as I struggled to fill the void. Maybe that’s why I appreciate what I have now, and I appreciate it so much. I’m so thankful to be where I am because I know what it’s like to not be here. I have a wealth of experience, really. I’ve been broken so many times, and yet, I refuse to let myself become angry, cynical, or bitter.

34 went by in a flash, but that speed doesn’t make me anxious. For once in my life, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, which is both wonderful and honestly foreign. In the past, I’ve wondered if I’m doing enough, or if I should be focusing on something different. It’s challenging with so many options available to choose the right one, and my anxiety often left me unable to do much of anything. This year, it’s been about picking something and sticking with it until it stops working. I can make the best of any situation, and so it’s sometimes hard to tell when it’s not what I really want. This year, it’s been about going after what activates me, and committing to a path at least for a little while. Some days I’d say it’s forever, and some days, that’s just too much pressure. I’d love to believe that I will be in the field of social work for the rest of my life, but right now, I’m content to show up every day and love what I do. I’m getting more and more comfortable with just going for things, and figuring it out along the way. I’ve always had a certain comfort level with chaos and disorganization.

There isn’t a comparable year in my adult life for this year. I’m sure that as a child, there were some great years, but in my eyes, this year stands alone. I am proud of the year that I turned in, and I promise not to take this situation for granted. I promise to continue working hard doing what I love, and I hope to keep writing as well. These two things, the job and the hobby, they give me all that I need to feel fulfilled. I’ve thought a lot about the things in life that brought or bring me the most joy. I don’t believe that life needs to be a struggle, but the things I enjoy the most, I didn’t start out with those skills. They had to be cultivated. There’s writing, public speaking, social work, and pretty much anything athletic that I’ve ever done. All of these bring me joy because of how hard I worked at them. They’re all a labor of love, and it makes me think about my Dad and his boat, how he committed himself to it, but also how he loved to throw on some goggles, grab a brush, and clean it until it sparkled. He paid attention to the details, and he loved all of that little work that can be so unsexy, but that is still so important. I’m not afraid to dive in anymore. I’ve gotten much more comfortable with the idea of failure, of working at something until you get better. I’m worried less about the outcome. Instead, I lose myself in the process.

Confidence slowly builds, and I’m trusting myself and my instincts/intuition. I’m working on my compassion, both with others and myself. Maybe the most important thing I’ve done this year is set boundaries, something I’ve needed to do for some time. I am sometimes or often a people-pleaser under the guise of being selfless. I don’t want that for me anymore. I have in some uncomfortable moments surrendered or even admitted defeat. It’s sinking in that I cannot help everyone. I can love and support them as much as possible, but everyone is responsible for their own self. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I need to look out for myself, need to be able to pull away when it’s necessary. It’s been a hard lesson to internalize, and I still love helping people, but given the things in my life that I want to keep, I know that I can’t burn out. I need to protect take care of myself first. I am not superhuman, have never been, and in some ways, I am becoming much more comfortable with my limitations.

I realized this year how important it is to keep an open mind. I realized that there are things I do not understand, and rather than trying to fit them into some preexisting world view, I am endeavoring to let things go, if I can. It’s okay to have your mind blown, and also to change your point of view when presented with evidence that contradicts your convictions. That’s wonderfully vague and I’m sorry. I’m simply admitting that the world is a crazy place, and that there are things that do not make sense, and with that statement, I’m sure you can agree. I’m learning to let the world be as it is, to judge less, and maybe I’m realizing that it’s not always worth trying to make sense out of things. Sometimes you think you understand everything or most things, then something comes along and breaks your brain. You have to be flexible/adaptable. When you get rigid, I think that that’s when the joy begins to leave you, that zest for living fades away.

I don’t know what 35 holds for me, not that I’ve ever been able to predict what any year held for me. I’ll probably look into going back to school, and also do some traveling. That’s about as much structure as I’ll give myself. With 5 years left of my thirties, I’m honestly not worried. Aside from the ankle, I physically feel great. I’m not feeling any pressure to do anything, but rather, I wake up every day, say a quick prayer, and do my best to meet the day and not to resist it. I’m getting there, taking my time, and just loving each and every moment as best as I can. Theres a lot less fear and anxiety, and a lot more love, compassion, and acceptance. I don’t know what this year will hold for me, but I’m digging the uncertainty. I’m sure there will be good moments and also unpleasant moments, but I’m ready to roll with the flow. Thanks for reading.


2 thoughts on “35

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s