So… I moved.
The life stuff.
I moved to Philly. If you’ve ever moved anywhere new, you know how this goes: spend the first two weeks perfecting your Life Story Elevator speech, try desperately not to forget the zillion names, feel constantly disorganized and sweaty from moving your crap around, spend seven hours on hold with various utilities companies, eat gelato for dinner three nights in a row because you’re too lazy to figure out how to cook without pans, run high on adrenaline over being in a new place… then pass through the honeymoon period and start realizing a few things suck about your new place/job/school/situation, learn to deal with them, settle into the rhythm of your new life.
I obviously haven’t reached all those stages yet, but I know they’re coming. Moving to a new place or starting a new big life “thing” is not a cure-all for anybody’s deep-seated personal challenges, but in the meantime, Philly is a blast and I’m digging everything about my east coast city life.
The running stuff.
Running is an important processing time for me, and this always becomes apparent when I’m going through a life transition.
Running serves as my brain balancer and buffer of my anxieties and insecurities. Really, it’s a management system that helps me function in regular life. I don’t think this is a bad thing or a good thing, but it’s definitely a thing. It’s a “thing” because someday the nature of my running is going to change (due to age, injury, job, general life phases), and hopefully my ability to escape/self-medicate will adapt around that. For now, though, I can’t get enough of losing myself in runs on the river path — I even met Flo on one of my runs!
The life stuff + the running stuff.
Day one in class and I remember already what I’d managed to forget while living in Juneau:
That the world belongs to the loud people. The talkers. The pushy people. The people who throw elbows in order to get to the professor first after class to schmooze. The discussion dominators. The self-promoters. The ones who show all their cards right away. The obvious people.
(Yes, I sound like a jealous, shy wallflower.)
I don’t wish to repeat the way I navigated my undergraduate courses, which was… quietly and meekly. Professors would read my papers and then tell me it’s great stuff and that I should speak up more in class. They’d make an example of my good work and invite me to participate, and then I’d never rise to the occasion because of my paralyzing general life confidence issues.
I’m a different person than I was then. I know a little more, I’ve seen a little more, and I’ve come to realize that most of the time, those types – the self-promoters, the loudmouths – they portray themselves to be far more passionate, intelligent, hardworking, and generally more of a big deal than they actually are (and they don’t do this to be sneaky or malicious – it’s simply how they move through life).
I’m FINALLY, FINALLY realizing this.
So instead of continuing to beat myself up over my reserved nature in large groups, I need to focus on what I’m good at and find ways to emphasize that. My strength as an athlete and as a runner has always been my willingness to prepare. I know that I will not arrive at a starting line ready to succeed unless I have put the work in. I’ve NEVER been the type who shows up after a long layoff or lazy period and magically grits my teeth to produce a “fire-and-brimstone” fantastic time trial or race.
Same thing in academic settings. I’ve always been good at going home, digesting the information, studying it, analyzing it, and then pulling it all together on paper in a way you could never get me to do out loud on the spot when I’m surrounded by a bunch of mouthy seem-to-know-it-all extroverts. I just need time by myself to put in the work first.
I’ve gone to a few group runs here in Philly and at the last one we took off at or under 7:00 pace. In the first few minutes, I found myself kind of panicking and wondering if I could even hold that pace. But I got ahold of myself. I settled in. Took a breath. Focused on my stride, my footfalls, the familiar things I know how to do. And as I fell into step behind the other runners still wondering whether or not this was too much for me, the answer popped into my head: You can hang with these guys. You belong.