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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. 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/09/2012 14:35

    In law school, the loud talkers are what we call “gunners” and everybody hates a gunner. I have always been a quiet student. I can usually only think of the obvious, and I hate raising my hand to state the obvious. Also, one of my strengths is sounding like an idiot when I talk. But, like you, I’ve grown more confident and less shy as I’ve gotten older, and thank goodness so we can drown out the loud boring gunners.

    Hope your transition continues to be a good one! Has it been easy to make friends? That’s always been a fear of mine in moving to a new state as an adult.

    • 09/10/2012 01:55

      Ok, yes to what RR said and yes to what you said above about the loudmouths owning the world! You know what? I was the same way in college – I never wanted to say anything because it all seemed so obvious. You know what else? The loudmouths? ARE SAYING THE TOTALLY OBVIOUS! But they’re putting this spin on it like they know everything and this is so original, etc. etc. The working world is no different.

      Uh, rambling. Sorry. Just wanted to say I know where you’re coming from, and you are smart to play up your own strengths instead of either trying to change how you are, or just sitting back and letting the loudmouths be loud.

      Very cool that you met Flo!

    • 09/10/2012 07:05

      @RR. Friends-wise, there are lots of other new-to-the-area students in my program, which helps. I also have two cool roommates and have met some runners (it’s good to have a hobby…). Otherwise yeah, that’s my main fear too. I bet if you ever moved it would help to have a “significant other” though… then you’re at least not home eating dinner by yourself every night.

      @harriet. Completely true. Sometimes it’s good because the obvious-staters set you up with a foundation to say something comparatively brilliant. It wouldn’t be so bad to be one of those intimidating quiet types…

  2. 09/09/2012 20:04

    RR’s comment: “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.”

    It always does. And I would love to hear your extended perspective on how this shakes out as your program progresses.

    I mean this totally genuinely. As someone who is always tested as a “dominant” personality, and who is considering entering grad school, but who always finds herself clinging to the wall thinking “WTF” when in a new situation with lots of people.

    But also: you can totally hang with those sub-7 peeps. And if you ever make it back down to the ATL, you’d better let me know!

    • 09/10/2012 07:14

      It’s funny, because I drafted up this post and then went to a class and found myself regularly contributing. I’m anticipating that it will be less challenging to participate this time because I’m genuinely interested in the course subject matter in my everyday life, so it’s easier to find things I like to talk/think about. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting the lay of the land and locating the sun before figuring out how best to grow away from the wall. (AWFUL METAPHOR OMG)

  3. 09/10/2012 04:35

    Still can’t get over that you’re in my timezone, much less in the same town. So cool to see you that day. Your rundown of what it’s like to move is SO right on, the eating gelato/pots and pans thing cracked me up, I hate moving but once you’re in, it’s fantastic. Hope you’re finding the same.

    As for the loudtalkers, screw ’em, your power is in your pen (or keyboard). You have the gift of writing and that’s so much more valuable than pushing and shoving your way into the limelight. Keep doing what you do best, trust your confidence and good things will come.

  4. 09/10/2012 09:45

    So happy to read an update from you; I know what you mean about the outspoken, in-your-face types in class. I always felt obnoxious to be “that girl” but the classes I really spoke up in we’re always where I did best. You can do it… In running & school. 🙂

    Just for curiosity’s sake, what are you studying?

    • 09/10/2012 10:07

      Environmental Studies — I’m concentrating in natural resource management. 🙂

  5. Ewen permalink
    09/11/2012 01:54

    Sounds like you’re settling in well. You’re more than capable of hanging with those guys — not only as a runner, but academically and socially. Don’t grow too far away from the wall — it takes all types of plants to populate a garden.

    Say ‘g’day’ to Flo next time you see her on the path. Give her a big sweaty hug from me 😉

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