Confession 1: My house is still decorated for Christmas. Yes, I know what the date is, and no, I don’t care. It’s too pretty to take down on this night, so I’m giving myself permission to enjoy it until Saturday.
Confession 2: I do NOT like running. Like, not at all. AT.ALL.
[I’m picturing all of my running enthusiast friends gasping and choking on their Powerade and terribly-flavored nutritional gel packs right about now while silently judging me.]
This admission came to me as I was pounding the pavement last night in the cold Atlanta evening, trying to push myself through walk/run intervals in preparation for the upcoming insane commitment I made several months ago–RunDisney’s Glass Slipper Challenge. That means not just finishing the Disney Princess Half Marathon (hopefully upright and at least semi-conscious), but adding on the Disney Enchanted 10K to be completed the day before just for kicks and giggles. I have lost my mind all in the name of being awarded with shiny, sparkle, Princess-themed medals and a freaking t-shirt. I think they should at least throw in a real tiara for my accomplishment of not dying during the races. It is Disney, after all. They can afford it.
In the early spring of 2011, my friends asked me to join them in the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon that October. Because of the mental, physical, and emotional state of mind and body I found myself in at the time, I decided this might just be the jolt I needed for a bit of revival. I was fairly serious about training and by race time, I’d shed some decent poundage and worked myself down to about a 13-13.5 min/mile. Pretty good for a beginner who had never run a long distance in her life. And, in all honesty, deep down I wanted to prove to my friends that I could do it and that I was worthy of their approval and attention. (More on that twisted thinking later.)
But, as I tend to do, I had a one woman with two internal voices debate in my head last night while training. It was cold and windy. Each running stride sent shockwaves of pain through my legs. It felt like knives were stabbing my shins. ‘Oh, sh*t…not shin splints again!!!’ I’m convinced that shin splints are directly caused by Satan himself, by the way. I freaking hate them.
‘Why am I doing this?!?’ For the last several months, I just could not muster up the motivation to properly train. This last year included several ups and lots of downs personally, leaving my psyche beaten and bruised with zero desire remaining to do much of anything. And, considering myself to be decent enough Behavior Analyst, I knew the principles of behavior surrounding this situation: if there was no establishing operation acting as motivation for me to engage in the running behavior, then there would not be sufficiently effective reinforcement following the running behavior to increase the likelihood of me running again. Yeah, I know. . .#nerd.
‘So, quit.’ No, I can’t quit. ‘Why not?’ Because everyone will think less of me. I’ll disappoint my friends and feel like a failure and be ashamed. ‘Who cares?’ I care!! Don’t you know that my worth is determined by what other people think about me?? ‘No it’s not.’ Yes it is! ‘NO, it’s not.’ YES it is! ‘NO, NO, NO, IT’S NOT.’ Okay, okay. Maybe it’s not. I mean, my family loves me, my friends think i’m pretty cool, my clients seem to appreciate me, and my boyfriend thinks I’m beautiful and loves me just the way that I am. So, yeah; I guess it’s not.
Why do we do this to ourselves, my friends? Why do we continue to think that it’s crucial to make sure that everyone around us–from those who love us most to those who barely know us–approve of our every decision? Why do we hold on to the thought that “self-esteem isn’t what I think of me; it’s what I think you think me?”
Get the promotion. Make more money. Get the right education. Get even more education. Get the PhD. Have the right address. Get the best spouse. Lose the right amount of weight. Look a certain way. Have the picture of perfection so that no one thinks otherwise, preserving your ever-growing internal fragility.
That’s the world’s view. I do not ascribe to the world’s view. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
Was God testing my thinking and acceptance of His grace for myself on the neighborhood roads last night? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know, but I choose to believe that regardless of the answer, I’m sure He’s proud of my conclusions. And, in the end, that’s what really matters. He wants me stop beating myself up. He wants me to stop measuring my self-worth by what I think others’ perspectives are.
So, I’m giving myself permission to quit running, or more accurately, trying to run. There are about 87 other ways I can get and stay in shape other than running and that’s okay with me, my shins, and my knees. I will continue with the upcoming Glass Slipper Challenge and if that means that I walk the entire 19.3 miles, then by golly, that’s what it means. If it means that I don’t finish the challenge, then that’s fine. THERE IS NO SHAME IN EITHER OUTCOME. (All caps to indicate me yelling at myself and anyone else who needs the message.)
The shame would be in not even trying anything outside of my comfort zone. And, that’s just not acceptable because I have had some awesomely fantastic experiences outside of that zone.
What do you need to give yourself permission to do, to stop, to change, or just to try? Whatever it is, forget the fear, comparisons, and most importantly, your projections of other people’s perceptions. Just do it.
Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. It’s a freaking beautiful vast landscape of potential and interesting opportunities. Join me there, won’t you?