“Are you doing anything fun this weekend?”
I turned the wheel and took my exit for Baltimore. My phone was resting on my thigh, my mom on speakerphone.
“Well. I am currently driving to my first track meet in five years. That’s something.”
I was en route to John Hopkins University to run my first meet since I was twenty-two, and the second 1500 of my life. Two girls from my running group entered the 1500 with me, and a third ran the 5k.
All week, I told myself this was just for fun. It did not calm me down one bit. My stomach was turning as it had for every race since I was twelve.
“I seriously do not know why I do this to myself! I’m not in shape. I haven’t run a race this short—or fast—in years. And all I can think is, this is going to hurt.”
There is nothing more brutally painful than a track race. I underwent surgery for a plantar fascia release my senior year of college. As I counted backward from ten, I reassured myself, “It can’t hurt worse than the 800. It can’t hurt worse than the 800.” Go ahead and cut my tendon, it won’t measure-up to those two laps.
“Well,” my mom started, “There must be something inside you that still wants to see what you can do.”
I love the podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin. On one particular episode, they discussed when you should (or should not) take on a new project/hobby/task/what-have-you, even when said task will add more stress/work/weight/what-have-you to your already-full plate.
Their advice? Choose the bigger life.
That sentence really stuck with me. In four words, it answers every, “Why do I do this to myself?” question I’ve ever had. I had no reason to enter a college track meet at age 26 (soon to be 27). I just wanted to see if I could still do it.
I did two things yesterday: 1) I ran a race, and 2) I day-drank margaritas with my friends. Of the two, day drinking was certainly more fun. It was clearly less stressful. It was also more convenient, as I drove over an hour and a half to a race lasting less than five minutes.
The things that give us the greatest grief also give us the greatest thrill. Day drinking was fun, but racing gave me a high I haven’t felt in years. Doing difficult things make us wake up with that fuck-yeah! feeling the next morning.
What gives you that same high? What do you avoid because of the associated anxiety, stress, and struggle? What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment when it’s finished? What have you not attempted, because you’re apprehensive of the work and commitment that comes with it? Whether it’s:
- Training for a marathon
- Launching your own business or side project
- Writing a book
- Looking for a new job
- Eliminating a bad habit
There is nothing easy, convenient, or calming about any of these things. Each one poses a challenge. Each one is difficult. Each one is a royal pain in the ass.
Challenge yourself to do difficult feelings. F is for shooting for that F-yeah feeling.