Growing up, I based my self-worth on my ability to prove to myself and others that I could do the things I thought I could not do. Whether it was earning a 4.0, fitting into my smallest pair of jeans, or getting into every prestigious music school, I was always on a quest to achieve a seemingly impossible goal. And I was always successful.
But was I happy? NOT AT ALL! Despite all my success, I never felt accomplished. Instead, I felt depressed, isolated, and full of self-loathing. Looking back, I was not simply trying to achieve goals. I was trying to be perfect. Now that I am learning to live for joy instead of out of fear, I have come to realize: perfection is SO overrated!
That being said, there is nothing wrong with trying to disprove your insecurities by setting out to do the things you thought were impossible. And for me, there was one thing I truly believed I would never be able to do: run. Growing up as an overweight child who spent hours at the piano while other kids played outside and developing into an eating-disordered teenager who was always too malnourished and insecure to even think of joining the hoards of fit 20-somethings pounding the pavement, running seemed completely out of the question.
This belief was further confirmed during the summer of 2011 when, even after 3 solid months of dedicated elliptical-ing and strength training (and, though I wouldn't admit it at the time, self-imposed starvation) I couldn't run for more than two minutes without feeling like I was going to collapse. Running seemed impossible!
Everything changed in early 2012, when I discovered the healthy-living blog world. So many happy and healthy young women, many with histories similar to my own, had discovered running as not only part of a healthy lifestyle, but as a passion! Maybe, I thought, it deserved a second chance.
So I laced up my sneakers and hit the streets. Though it was hard at first, I quickly realized that if I was kind to myself, listened to my body, and remembered to breathe, I could get a thrill from running that I had never experienced before in my life!
Few other things make me this happy!
I am also SO LUCKY to live right across the street from the "running gem" of Brooklyn: Prospect Park!
Not only is my neighborhood great because it has several paths of varying distances and difficulties that can isolate different aspect of training, it is also an amazing place to be because... everybody runs! Any time of day or night, I am surrounded by people of all ages an levels running through this wonderful neighborhood in which we are so lucky to live. It's awesome!
Each time I set out to run, I am working on mastering two new skills: the art of running itself, and the ability to be kind to myself and celebrate my successes but forgive myself for my shortcomings. I am just beginning my running journey. I can't wait to see where it takes me!