Doing Enough

>> Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For my 30th birthday, my dad presented me with a rather unexpected "gift" that had been in the works almost my entire life. He handed me an envelope containing all my report cards and standardized test scores since I started kindergarten. Sounds a little odd, but I assure you -- it's absolutely incredible to look at notes about my class participation and see written comments about my 9-year-old "chatterbox" self.

Thanks, dad.

I made my way through the years until I got to high school, where I was completely shocked to see a GPA of 2.73 my second semester of 9th grade. We all have things we brag about from time to time, and for me -- it's been my grades. In my junior and senior years of high school, I got high marks in lots of honors and AP classes. I worked even harder in college and graduated magna cum laude with a near double-major, two on-campus jobs, and a host of extracurricular activities.

Convenient how I forgot this one semester and -- really -- entire year of mediocre scores in most of my classes (hello, straight Cs in Spanish -- not my forte!). But then it all started to make sense. My freshman year of high school was my first real period of finding myself + honing my interests on my own terms. Wow, was I overloaded! Classes, music and theater stuff, attempts at sports, boyfriends, and much more.

I have this tendency to pile high the to-dos, goals, activities, obligations, and expectations . . . and, looking back, it all kicked into high gear in 9th grade. Surprise, surprise.

So, I think it's common to want to do more and accomplish more. Over time, we develop keen coping mechanisms and a better capacity for "work" so we can keep the rest of our lives running while we go after the big stuff. But there's definitely a breaking point. When I need to start thinking about what I expect from myself and from life.

I wrote all sorts of stuff related to this topic, but it ended up being mostly for me, not for you all.

In brief: I've spread myself thinner and thinner with each passing year and developed quite a tolerance. But I've reached my own breaking point. I think it's just wanting too much and not knowing why or what will ultimately fill my cup. What will make me feel full at the end of the day.

+  +  +  +  +

With all of these revelations in mind, I'm trying my best with the bigger picture goals I posted to stay focused and simple in my approach. For example, keeping up with my training goals is important and I embarked on the first workout for my fall half marathon plan yesterday.

The entire time I was running, my mind ran, too.
Through all the other fitness goals I have for myself.
And there are plenty.

"Well, I should probably do some cross-training when I'm done since I skipped yesterday's long run for travel. Maybe go to the pool and yoga tomorrow on my 'off' day. Perhaps I'll have time to sneak in some good sets of push-ups or skip to the gym to do kettlebells. Maybe I should check out that cycling class on Thursday. Maybe I should up my weekly mileage to 40 to meet my (lofty) time goal."

Eventually I returned home after 4 miles and said -- out loud, actually -- "SHUT UP. You are doing enough! You're doing great." It felt sort of amazing to assert myself in this way. To stand up to that bully always poking from the inside for not being good enough, fast enough, fit enough, smart enough, creative enough, etc.

Obviously this lesson applies to far more areas than just running or fitness. I've been feeling much more centered, at least in my heart, about myself and my life. Who I am. What's really important. My head is still catching up, it seems. As with all mind shifts, it will take time.

Thing is, I don't have grades to act as a barometer anymore. Of course I'll want to expand my horizons and improve. Work hard and go beyond my comfort zone. But not at the expense of the greater good. Not everything all at once. Today. Yesterday.

I am doing enough. I really am. And that's my new mantra.

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