I had the most random and unexpected compliment yesterday. I had an appointment with my Nurse Practitioner who I’ve been seeing for probably 15+ years. So while I’ve seen her a long time, we only see each other once a year, so it’s not like we have this big deep relationship. But she does know that I’m a runner and whether she remembered or read it in my chart, she also knows I not only run but have done multiple marathons and completed an ultra the last time I saw her. She asked what I had planned for 2017 and I said that I’ve really scaled back on my running and I don’t have any major endurance events planned. I added that I planned on doing a triathlon this year and she gave me only a half-enthusiastic response (like a tri was small potatoes compared to an ultra). That is until I told her that I don’t know how to swim. This intrigued her. She spun around on her little wheeled stool and wanted to know more (thankfully I was not up in stirrups at this point!). She could not believe I am taking on this endeavor considering I don’t know how to swim. She thought it was just amazing. Her enthusiasm took me by surprise and I must have looked it because she went on to explain. She said she sees young women every day with no goals, no enthusiasm and no desire to try – try anything. She said it’s sad. She thinks I’m an inspiration. She even said that whatever is motivating me to try new things, the drive to set a goal and do what needs to be done in order to reach that goal is what makes a person successful at life.
Wow, a success at life! That’s a heavy conversation to be having in a medical gown, but please go on!
She said that no matter what the outcome of my trying to learn to swim or how the tri goes, she said that she’s proud of me and she wishes me luck.
Again, wow! All of this from a lady I see once a year!
She asked me where the drive comes from and what it is that makes me want to tackle new goals and challenges. I didn’t have an answer for her but I really wanted to find an answer for myself. So I’ve been thinking about nothing else since she asked me. And while there isn’t one clear-cut, easy answer I do have some thoughts as to where my drive comes from.
I have to give some credit to my parents. And while they never did anything like what I’m doing, they passed on some qualities that make me who I am and the person that signs up for an ultra even though I’m not a very good runner or the person who signs up for a tri even though she can’t swim. My stubbornness to not quit came from my mom, and I don’t say stubborn as a negative. I’m definitely my mother’s daughter when it comes to that. Being stubborn is the only thing that got me across many finish lines and it’s what helped my mom raise 7 kids. Stubbornness is a good thing – my husband may not think so – but I do!
I got my dad’s drive. He was a self-employed farmer and he did what was needed in order to get the job done. No excuses, just do it. So once I sign up for something I will do what it takes to reach my goal (thanks dad), i.e. training, lessons, practice, early morning workouts, etc. and even if it gets tough and I want to quit, I won’t – because I’m stubborn (thanks mom).
But why even sign up for a race or take on a new challenge? When I was asked what in me made me want to sign up for these things and to push myself like this… it really got me to wonder the same thing. I think a lot of my desire to try to challenges and set new goals is that I’m extremely aware that life is short. And I want to make the most of the one I have.
I want to try new things and have adventures. I always say I want to live not for “things” but instead for “experiences”. And while a lot of really cool experiences and adventures that I want to embark on cost money – these really don’t. Okay yes, there are entry fees and gear, etc. But it’s not the same as saving up to go on a European vacation. Brian and I aren’t wealthy and we work extremely hard for our money and it takes time to save for some of the big things we want to do and see. But signing up for events and working towards those goals are more short-term goals that I can control and have nothing to do with money. It’s a way to make sure I experience life, not from a couch doing nothing more than binge watching Netflix (but I do enjoy the occasional binge weekend) but instead in the “thick of it”.
And lord knows I wasn’t always like this. I spent most of my twenties and even a portion of my early thirties on the couch. Probably because it’s hard to go for a run when you’re hung over! But thankfully that was a phase and once I grew up, I grew out of it. (Sort of!) I enjoy setting goals. I enjoy working towards them. I enjoy reaching those goals and getting that sense of accomplishment. I was talking to a friend who is currently training for his first marathon and I was telling him that it’s the feeling of accomplishment that makes you come back for more. It’s addicting.
Maybe that’s what the young women who have no drive are missing. They need that sense of accomplishment that will push them to try again. Maybe all they need is to set one goal and once they achieve it – no matter what it is – they too will be hooked. They will realize to live life is to experience life. Not from a comfortable spot on the sidelines, but instead by being part of the game.
Until next time,
Gotta run (or swim)